(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe"

Google 



This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 



AKNHEOi EDtnON 

Thh edMaa of tbe Coapkie Worta of 
Bdgu Attan Poe h IkaHed to Hre Huoind 
Sfgaed 9ad Nuateted $eta, ofwbkb dU» Jt 




^ V. iuXUa^^tU/S^-ttd 



\ 



the Red Death, 

;auliful, much of tliL i 
: uf iLl lerribk, and iiui 



the Re:! Death. ■ ■■ 

-autif..!, muL-h of tiK^ wanUu. . 
uf the lurriLlc, iiiiJ nut a liult . 



I ' 
I 



( • 



1 



-r . 



'M ;^.i/. 



// •• * 



I .'.*■• 



1 1 



• I 



THE 



COMPLETE WORKS 



OF: 



EDGAR ALLAN POE 




CRITICISMS 



G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 

TCbe Itntciterbocfter press 



Copyrlgfatt 190a 

(For Introductton and Dtiigni) 

by 

O. P. FUnrAM'S 80HS 



'V 



Vbc VlitlcterbocRct 9rcM. tkam Vort 



Contents 

PAOI 

WDliam EUsry Channing i 

J. Faoimore Cooper aa 

R. H. Home 42 

Amdia Welby 74 

Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 83 

VnUiam W. Lord lai 

Some Secrets of the Magazine Prison-Hotue . 138 
Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists . . 143 

Hr. Longfdlow, Hr. Willis, and the Drama . aao 

Elizabeth Oakes Smith 370 

William Gilmore fiimnut , jgj 

^^lliam CitUen Bryant 293 

The literati 313 

Oeo^ Bnah 317 

Oeo^ H. Colton 319 

H. P. ^illii 333 

WUUam M. Gillespie -333 

Charles F. Briggs 333 

William Kirkland 337 

John W. Francis 339 



Contents 

Anna Cora Mowatt 341 

George B. ChMver 347 

ChariesAnthon 349 

Ralph Hoyt 35^ 

Oulian C. Veiplanck 355 

Freeman Hunt 356 

Piero Maroncelli 3^ 

Lang^ton Osbom 361 

Fitz-Greens Halleck 367 

Ann S. Stephens 37^ 

Erert A. Duyckinck 377 

■aiy Gove 381 

Jamea Aldrich 3^3 

Hairy Gary 3^5 



List of Illustrations 

PASB 

Tile Kasqne of tlie Red Death Prontimpteae 

" There waa mncb of the beantifnl, much of the 
vsnton, mnch of the bizarre, eomethlng of the tar- 
ilble, and not a little of that iriilch might hare ez- 
dted diignst." 

J. Fenimore Cooper 34 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning .... 84 
From a paintiiig in the national Portimit OallaTT, 



Robert Browning 100 

From the painting by Ua mo. 
Lord Tennyson 130 

From the painting by O. P. Watta, 
Tile Domain of Amheim 158 

"During the forenoon he paaaed between ihoret 
of a tranquil and domestic baantT'.*' 

(Sm Vol tL, pac« 148.) 

The Fall of tlie Hoose of Usher .... 300 

" Bat then without those doon there dU stand the 
loft; and enshrouded figure of the Lady Madeline <d 
niher." 

(8m Vol a., mc* 31S-) 



List of Illustrations 



NaOianid P. WUUt 323 

William Cullen Bryant 294 

Fitz-Greeoe Hallflck . .... 368 



CRITICISMS 



List of Illustrations 



Nathaniel P. WUlii aaa 

'^miiam CuUen Bryant 394 

fttt-Greene Halleck . .... 368 



CRITICISMS 



William Ellery Channing 



'rar^n speaking of Mr. WiUiam EUeiy Chinning, 
\Jt^ who has just published a very neat little 

**• ' volume of poems, we feel the necesrity of 
empl<^ng the indefinite rattier than tlie definite article. 
He is a« and I7 no means tbe, William Ellery Chan'- 
idng. He is only the aeo of the great essayist deceased. 
He is jost such a person, in despite of his claruta et 
TtnerabUe neatea, as Pindar would have designated 
by the significant term rte. It may be said in his 
favor that nobody ever heard of him. Like an honest 
woman, he has always succeeded in keeping himself 
from being made the subject of gossip. Bis book 
contains about six^-three things, which he calls 
poems, and which he no doubt seriously supposes so 
to be. They are full of aU Unds of mistakes, of which 
the most important is that of their having been 
printed at aU, They are not precisely En^lsh; nw 



BUery Channing 



will we insult a great nation by calling them Kicka- 
poo; perhaps they are Channingese. We may con- 
vey some general idea of them by two foreign terms 
not in common use, — ^the Italian pavoneggiarfi " to 
strut like a peacock,** and the German word for ** sky- 
rocketing/* sebwSfmerel They are more prepos- 
terous, in a word, than any poems except those of 
the author of 5axn Patch f for we presume we are 
right (are we not ?) in taking it for granted that the 
author of Sam Patch is the very worst of all the 
wretched poets that ever existed upon earth. 

In spite, however, of the customary phrase about a 
man*s ** making a fool of himsdf,** we doubt if any 
one was ever a fool of his own free will and accord. 
A poet, therefore, should not always be taken too 
strictly to task. He should be treated with leniency, 
and, even when damned, should be damned with re- 
spect. NoUlity of descent, too, should be allowed its 
privileges not more in social life than in letters. The 
son of a great author cannot be handled too tenderly 
by the critical Jack Ketch. Mr. Channing must be 
hung, that *s true, fie must be hung hi terrorem, and 
for this there is no help under the sun; but then we 
shall do him all manner of justice, and observe every 
spedes of decorum, and be especially careful of his 
feelings, and hang him gingerly and gracefully, with 
a silken cord, as the Spaniards hang their grandees of 
the blue blood, their nobles of the aangre aztd 



William Ellery Chaxming 

To be seriottty then, as we always wish to be if possi- 
ble, Mr. Channing (whom we suppose to be a very 
young man, since we are prednded from supposing 
him a yery old one) appears to have been inoculated, 
at the same moment, with virus from Tennyson and 
from Cailyle. And here we do not wish to be mis- 
understood. For Tennyson, as for a man imbued 
with the richest and rarest poetic impulses, we have 
an admiration, a reverence unbounded. His Morte 
d'ArtbtsTf his Loekaiey Hall, his Sleeping Beauty, his 
Lady of Sbahtt, his Lotoa Eaters, his Oenone, and 
many other poems, are not surpassed, in all that gives 
to poetry its distinctive value, by the con^ositions of 
any one living or dead. And his leading error, that 
error which renders him unpopular, a point, to be 
sure, of no particular importance, — that very error, we 
say, is founded in truth, in a keen perception of the 
elements of poetic beauty. We allude to his quaint- 
ness, to what the world chooses to term his affectation. 
Ho true poet, no critic whose approbation is worth 
even a copy of the volume we now hold in our hand, 
will deny that he feels impressed, sometimes even to 
tears, by many of those very affectations which he is 
impdled by the prejudice of his education, or by the 
cant of his reason, to condemn. He should thus be 
led to eTamlne the extent of the one, and to be waiy of 
the deductions of the other. In fact, the profound 
intuition of Lord Bacon has supplied, in one of his 

3 



William Ellery Channing 

immortal apothegms, the whole philosophy of the 
point at issue. ** There is no exquisite beauty/' he 
truly says, ** without some strangeness in its propor- 
tions.** We maintain, then, that Tennyson errs, not 
in his occasional quaintness, but in its continual and 
obtrusiye excess. And, in accusing Mr. Channing of 
haying been inoculated with virus from Tennyson, we 
merely mean to say that he has adopted and exag- 
gerated that noble poet's characteristic defect, having 
mistaken it for his principal merit. 

Mr. Tennyson is quaint only; he is never, as some 
have supposed him, obscure, except, indeed, to the 
uneducated, whom he does not address. Mr. Carlyle, 
on the other hand, is obscure only; he is seldom, as 
some have imagined him, quaint. So far he is right; 
for although quaintness, employed by a man of judg- 
ment and genius, may be made auxiliary to a poem, 
whose true thesis is beauty, and beauty alone, it is 
grossly, and even ridiculously, out of place in a work 
of prose. But in his obscurity it is scarcely necessary 
to say that he is wrong. Either a man intends to be 
understood, or he does not. If he write a book which 
he intends not to be understood, we shall be very 
happy indeed not to understand it; but if he write a 
book which he means to be understood, and, in this 
book, be at all possible pains to prevent us from under- 
standing it, we can only say that he is an ass; 
and this, to be brief, is our private opinion of Mr. 

4 



William Ellery Channing 

Cariyle, which we now take the liberty of making 
public 

It seems that, having deduced from Tennyson and 
Carlyle an opinion of the sublimity of everything odd, 
and of the profundity of everjrthing meaningless, Mr. 
Channing has conceived the idea of setting up for him- 
self as a poet of unusual depth, and very remarkable 
powers of mind. His airs and graces, in consequence, 
have a highly picturesque effect, and the Boston critics, 
who have a notion that poets are porpoises (for they are 
always talking about their running in '* schools '*)i 
cannot make up their minds as to what particular 
school he must belong. We say the Bobby Button 
school, by all means. He clearly belongs to that. 
And should nobody ever have heard of the Bobby 
Button school, that is a point of no material import- 
ance. We will answer for it, as it is one of our own. 
Bobby Button is a gentleman with whom, for a long 
time, we have had the honor of an intimate acquaint- 
ance. His personal appearance is striking. He has 
quite a big head. His eyes protrude and have all the 
air of saucers. His chin retreats. His mouth is de- 
pressed at the comers. He wears a perpetual frown 
of contemplation. His words are slow, emphatic, and 
oracular. His ** thes,** '* ands,'* and ** buts*' have 
more meaning than other men's pol3rsyllables. His 
nods would have put Burleigh's to the blush. His 
whole aspect, indeed, conveys the idea of a gentleman 

5 



William Ellery 



modest to a fault, and painfoUy overbordeiied with 
intellect. We insist, however, upon calling Mr. Chan- 
ning's school of poetry the Bobby Button school, 
rather because Mr. Channing's poetry is stroni^y sug- 
gestive of Bobby Button than because Mr. Button 
himself ever dallied, to any very great extent, with the 
Muses. With the exception, indeed, of a very fine 
Sonnet to a Pigi — or rather the fragment of a sonnet, 
for he proceeded no farther than the words '* O piggy 
wiggy,** with the O italicized for emphasis, — with the 
exception of this, we say, we are not aware of his hav- 
ing produced anything worthy of that stupendous 
genius which is certainly in him, and only wants, like 
the starling of Sterne, '* to get out.** 

The best passage in the book before us is to be 
found at page i2X, and we quote it, as a matter of 
le justice, in full: 

Dear friend, in this fair atmospliere agaio. 
Far from the noisy echoes of the main. 
Amid the world-old mountains, and the hills 
From whose strange gronjdng a fine power distils 
The soothing and the calm, I seek repose. 
The city's noise forgot and hard stem woes, 
As thon once saidst, the rarest sons of earth 
Have in the dust of cities shown their worth. 
Where long collision with the human curse 
Has of great glory been the frequent nurse, 
And ohfy tboMt who in tud cHkt dweO 
Aft 0/ (fte gtttn treet fuBy BenM&k^ 

6 



William EUery Channing 

To tbem die tOwtr beU§ of ilaiMag ttntam 
Seem brighter then en eageTe kugh In dream$» 

The few lines italicized are highly meritoriousi and 
the ^diole extract is so far decent and inteUigiUei that 
we experienced a feeling of surprise upon meeting it 
amid the doggerel which surromids it. Not less was 
our astonishment upon finding, at page iS, a fine 
thought so wdl embodied as the following: 



Or flee the eariy sUzSy a mild tweet train, 
Come out to bury the diurnal sun. 

But, in the way of commendation, we have now done. 
We have carefully explored the whole volume, in 
vain, for a single additional line worth even the most 
qualified applause. 

The utter abandon, the charming negUgi the perfect 
looseness (to use a Western phrase) of his rhythm, is 
one of Mr. C.*s most noticeable, and certainly one of 
his most refreshing traits. It would be quite a pleasure 
to hear him read or scan, or to hear anybody else read 
or scan, such a line as this, at page 3, for example : 

Masculine almost though softly carved in grace, 

where ** masculine ** has to be read as a trochee, and 
'^ almost '* as an iambus; or this, at page 8: 

That compels me on through wood, and fell, and moor, 

7 



Ellery Channing 

where ''that compels" has to be pronounced as 
equivalent to the iambus '* me on *' ; or this, at page x8 ; 

I leave thee, tbe maid spoke to the true yovthy 

where both the '' thes '* demand a strong accent to 
preserve the iambic rhythm; or this, at page 29: 

80 in our steps strides truth and honest trust, 

where (to say nothing of the grammar, which may be 
Dutch, but is not English) it is quite impossible to get 
through with the ** steps strides truth ** without dis- 
locating the under jaw; or this, at page 32 : 

The terene azure the keen stars are now; 

or this, on the same page : 

Sometfme of sorrow, joy to ibjr 'Bnturef 

or this, at page 56: 

Harsh action, even in repose inwardly harsh; 

or this, at page $9^ 

Provides ampietr enjoyment O my brother; 
or this, at page 138: 

Like the swift petrel, mimicking the wave's measure; 

8 



William EUery Channing 

about all of which the less we say the better. 
At page g6, we read thus: 

Where the untrammelled soiil on her wind pinions. 
Fearlessly sweeping, defies my earthly foes. 
There, there upon that infinitest sea 
Lady, thy hope, so fair a hope, gummons me. 

At page 51, we have it thus: 

The liver calmly flows 
Through tthining banks, thro' lonely glen 
Where the owl shrieks, tho' ne'er the cheer of men 

Has stirred its mute repose; 
Still if you should walk there you would go there again. 

At page 136, we read as follows : 

Tune thy dear voice to no funereal song. 
For O Death stands to welcome thee sure. 

At page 116, he has this: 

These graves, you mean; 
Their histo/y who knows better than I ? 
For in the busy street strikes on my ear 
Each sound, even inaudible voices 
Lengthen the long tale my memory tella 

Just below, on the same page, he has 

I see but little difference truly f 

and at page 76, he fairly puts the climax to metrical 
absurdity in the lines which follow: 

9 



William Bllery Chaiming 



taOis Ilk hooM in Ar Ian 
A JHwiiliful iiuuHioiiy liow tbe oolm five^ 



This is to be read, of coone, iutrikkittty ddiUdt, and 
M intrikkittly ddiUdt " it iSi iinlm, indued, we aie 
▼efv fi tp ftf J sPy niistskeo. 

The affectstioDS — flie Tennjsonisiiis of Kr. Chan- 
mug — penrade his book at all points, and aie not easily 
particiilsiized* He cmploysi for frwppl^i the word 
<<ddi^''for**ddi|^tod**; asatpi^^a: 

Ddight to trace the nioimtaiii^bffook*! dMoeiit« 

He uses, also, all tiie piepoeitioiis in a difterent sense 
from tiie nbble. H, for instance, he was called npon 
to say ^ 00,** he would n't say it by any means, but 
he 'd say ^ oflF,** and endearor to make it answer the 
pnrpose. For ^ to,*' in tiie same manner, he says 
^ from **; for ^ witii," ^ of," and so on; at page 2, 
for example : 

Hot lew in winter, 'mid the s^Bttering banks 
He iyed fl/vnipotted inowy the maiden lOYsd. 

For '* serene," he says ** serene "; as at page 4: 

The infloenoe of this fcrene ide. 



For '* subdued,'* he says '* subdued "; as at page 16: 

So fun of tfaou^it, so Mftdaed to taric^ lean. 

10 



William EUery Channing 

By the way, what kind of f ean are bright ? 
For '^ eternal," he says '* eteme *' ; as at page 30: 

Has risen, and tax etene sun now paints. 

For << friendless,'* he substitutes <* friend/esa *'; as at 
page 31: 

Are dnwn hi other figures. Hot friendfan* 

To ** future " he prefers ** future " ; as at page 32 : 

Somotkne of aorrow. Joy to thy fvLtut€» 

To *' azure,*' m the same way, he prefers *^ azure " ; as 
at page 46: 

Ye atand each separate in the agufe. 

In place of ^unheard," he writes *' uoheaxd "; as thus, 
at page 47: 

Or tUnk, tiio* oidieaid, that your ^here is dumb. 

In place of ** perchance," he writes ** perchance " ; as 
At page 71: 

When ^cfvhance sorrow with her icy smile. 



Instead of <« more infinite," he writes " infin/fisr," with 
an accent on the ^< nit," as thus, at page 100: 

Hope's child, I summon inflnAer powera. 

II 



William EUery Channing 

And here we might as well ask Kr. Channingi in pass- 
ing, what idea he attaches to infinity, and whether he 
really thinks that he is at liberty to subject the adjec- 
tive ** infinite " to degrees of comparison. Some of 
these days we shall hear, no doubt, of ** eternal," 
** etemaler,'* and ** etemalest" 

Our author is quite enamored of the word ** sump- 
tuous," and talks about ** sumptuous trees," and 
** sumptuous girls," with no other object, we think, 
than to employ the epithet at all hazards and upon 
all occasions. He seems unconscious that it means 
nothing more than ezpensiye, or costly; and we are 
not quite sure that either trees or girls are, in America, 
either the one or the other. 

For ** loved " Mr. C. prefers to say " was loving," 
and takes great pleasure in the law phrase, '^the 
same." Both peculiarities are exemplified at page 
20, where he says: 

The maid was loviog this enamoured same. 

He is fond also of inversions and contractions, and 

employs them in a very singular manner. At page 15 

he has. 

How may I thee describe a paradise. 

At page 86 he says. 

Thou lazy river, flowing neither way 
Me figuresty and yet thy banks seem gay. 

12 



William EUery Channing 

At page 143 he writes, 

Men change that heaven above sot more; 

meaning that men change so much that heaven above 
does not change more. At page 150 he says, 

Bttt 80 much soul hast thoo within thy form 
Than luscious summer days thou art the more; 

by which he would imply that the lady has so much 
soul within her form that she is more luscious than the 
luscious summer days. 

Were we to quote specimens under the general head 
of *' utter and irredeemable nonsense," we should 
quote nine tenths of the book. Such nonsense, we 
mean, as the following from page 11 : 

I hear thy solemn anthem fall. 

Of richest song upon n^ ttUf 
That clothes thee in thy golden paU 

As this wide son flows on the mere. 

Now let us translate this : He hears (Mr. Channing) a 
solemn anthem, of richest song, fall upon his ear, and 
this anthem clothes the individual who sings it in that 
individual's golden pall in the same manner that, or at 
the time when, the wide sun flows on the mere; which 
18 all very delightful, no doubt. 

13 



William EUery Channing 

At page 37 he informs us that 

It is not Uvingi 
To a soul believing, 
To change each noUe joy. 
Which our strength employSi 
For a state half rotten 
And a life of toys; 

and that it is 

Better to be foigotten 
Than lose eqtdpoise. 

And we dare say it is, if one could only understand 
what kind of equipose is intended. It is better to be 
forgotten, for instance, than to lose one's equipoise 
on the top of a shot-tower. 

Occupying the whole of page 88, he has the six lines 
which follow, and we will present any one (the author 
not excepted) with a copy of the voluxne, if any one 
will tell us what they are all about: 

He came and waved a little silver wand, 
He dropped the veil that hid a statue fair, 

He drew a circle with that pearly hand. 
His grace confined that beauty in the air, 

Those limbs so gentle now at rest from flight, 

Those quiet eyes now musing on the night 

At page 102 he has the following: 

14 



William EUery Channing 

Bry leaTes with 3rellow ferns, they are 
J^t wreath of autumn, while a star 
StiU, bright, and pure, our frosty air 

Shhrers in twinkling points 

Of thin celestial hair 
And thus one side of heaven anoints. 

This we think we can explain. Let us see. Dry 
leaves, mixed with yellow femsi are a wreath fit for 
autumn at the time when our frosty air shivers a stOl 
blight, and pure star with twinkling points of thin 
celestial hair, and with this hair, or hair plaster, 
anoints one side of the sky. Tes, this is it, no doubt. 
At page 123, we have these lines: 

My sweet girl is lying still 

In her lovely atmoqihere; 
The gentle hopes her blue veins fill 

With pure silver warm and clear. 

O see her hair, O mark her fareasti 
Would it not, O I comfort thee, ■ 

If thou couldst nightly go to rest 
By that virgin chastity ? 

Yes; we think, upon the whole, it would. The eight 
lines are entitled a Songt and we should like very 
much to hear Mr. Channing sing it. 

Pages 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, and 41 are filled with short 
Tbougbts in what Mr. C. supposes to be the man- 
ner of Jean Paul. One of them runs thus: 

IS . 



William Ellery Channing 

How shall I live ? In eamettneM. 
What shall I do ? Work earnesay. 
What shall I gi^e ? A wiUingness. 
What shall I gain ? Ttanqiiillity. 
Bttt do yott mean a quietness 
In which I act and no man Uess ? 
Flash out in action infinite and free 
Action conjoined with deep tranquillity. 
Resting upon the soul's true utterance, 
And life shaU flow as merry as a dance. 

All our readers will be happy to hear, we are sure, that 
Mr. C. is gong to ** flash out'* Elsewhere at page 97, 
he expresses very similar sentiments: 

My empire is myself and I defy 

The external; yes, I rule the whole or die I 

It will be observed here that Mr. Channing's empire is 
himself (a small kingdom, however), that he intends 
to defy <* the external," whatever that is (perhaps he 
means the inf emals), and that, in short, he is going to 
rule the whole or die ; all which is very proper, indeed, 
and nothing more than we have to expect from Mr. C. 
Again, at page 146, he is rather fierce than other- 
wise. He says: 

We surely were not meant to ride the sea, 
Skimming the wave in that so prisoned small, 

Reposing our infinite faculties uttedy. 
Boom like a roaring sunlit waterfall. 

Humming to infinite abysms: speak loud, speak free. 

16 



William EUery Channing 

Here lEr. Channing not only intends to '< speak loud 
and free *' himself , but advises everybody else to do 
likewise. For his own part, he says, he is going to 
« boom ** — ** to hum and to boom *' — " to hum like a 
roaring waterfall " and ^* boom to an infinite abysm.'* 
What, in the name of Beelzebub, is to become of us all? 
At page 39, while indulging in similar bursts of 
fervor and of indignation, he says: 

Thou meetest a common man 
With a delnsive show of can, 

and this passage we quote by way of instancing what 
we consider the only miq)rint in the book. Mr. Chan- 
ning could never have meant to say: 

Thou meetest a common man 
With a delusive show of coo / 

for what is a delusive show of can? No doubt it 
should have been. 

Thou meetest a little pup 

With a ddusive show of tin-cup. 

A can, we believe is a tin-cup, and the cup must have 
been tied to the tail of the pup. Boys will do such 
tricks, and there is no earthly way of preventing them, 
we believe, short of cutting off their heads, or the tails 
of the pups. 

VOL.VUI.— a. jy 



William EUery Channing 

And this remarkable little ▼oiume is, after aU, by 
William EUery Channing, A great name, it has been 
said, is, in many cases, a great misfortune. We hear 
daily complaints from the George Washington Dizons, 
the Socrates Smiths, and the Napoleon Buonaparte 
Joneses, about the inconsiderate ambition of their 
parents and sponsors. By inducing invidious com- 
parison, these pntnomlna get their bearers (so they 
say) into every variety of scrapes. If George Wash- 
ington Dixon, for example, does not think proper, 
upon compulsion, to distinguish himself as a patriot, 
he is considered a very singular man; and Socrates 
Smith is never brought up before his honor the Mayor 
without receiving a double allowance of thirty days; 
while his honor the Mayor can assign no sounder rea- 
son for his severity than that better things than get- 
ting toddied are to be expected of Socrates. Napoleon 
Buonaparte Jones, on the other hand, to say nothing 
of being called Nota Bene Jones by all his acquaint- 
ances, is cowskinned with pefect regularity, five times 
a month, merely because people will feel it a point of 
honor to cowskin a Napoleon Buonaparte. 

And yet these gentlemen, the Smiths and the Joneses, 
are wrong in Mo, as the Smiths and the Joneses in- 
variably are. They are wrong, we say, in accusing 
their parents and sponsors. They err in attributing 
their misfortunes and persecutions to the prmnominai 
to the names assigned them at the baptismal font. Mr. 

i8 



William EUery Channing 

Socrates Smifh does not receive his double quantum of 
llurty days because he is called Socrates, but because 
he IS called Socrates Smith. Mr. Napoleon Buonaparte 
Jones is not in the weekly receipt of a flogging on 
account of being Mr. Napoleon Buonaparte, but 
simply on account of being Mr. Napoleon Buonaparte 
Jones. Here, indeed, is a clear distinction. It is the 
surname which is to blame, after all. Mr. Smith must 
drop the Smith. Mr. Jones should discard the Jones. 
No one would ever think of taking Socrates — Socrates 
solely — ^to the watchhouse; and there is not a bully 
living who would venture to cowskin Napoleon Buona- 
parte per B€0 And the reason is plain. With nine 
individuals out of ten, as the world is at present hap- 
pily constituted, Mr. Socrates (without the Smith) 
would be taken for the veritable philosopher of whom 
we have heard so much, and Mr. Napoleon Buonaparte 
(without the Jones) would be received implicitly as the 
hero of Austerlitz. And should Mr. Napoleon Buona- 
parte (without the Jones) give an opinion upon mili- 
tary strategy, it would be heard with the profoundest 
respect. And should Mr. Socrates (without the Smith) 
deliver a lecture or write a book, what critic so bold as 
not to pronounce it more luminous than the logic of 
Emerson, and more profound than the Orphicism of 
Alcott ? In fact, both Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones, in 
the case we have imagined, would derive, through 
their own ingenuity, a very material advantage. But 

19 



William EUery Channing 



no such ingenuity has been needed in the case of Mr. 
William EUery Channing, who has been befriended by 
Fate, or the foresight of his sponsors, and who has no 
Jones or Smith at the end of his name. 

And here, too, a question occurs. There are many 
people in the world silly enougli to be deceived by ap- 
pearances. There are individuals so crude in intellect, 
so green (if we may be permitted to employ a word 
which answers our purpose much better than any 
other in the language), so green, we say, as to imagine, 
in the absence of any indication to the contrary, that 
a volume bearing upon its title-page the name of 
William EUery Channing must necessarily be the post- 
humous work of that truly iUustrious author, the sole 
William EUery Channing of whom anybody in the 
world ever heard. There are a vast number of unin- 
formed young persons prowling about our bookshops, 
who wiU be raw enough to buy, and even to read half 
through this pretty Uttle book, (God preserve and for- 
give them!) mistaking it for the composition of an- 
other. But what then? Are not books made, as 
weU as razors, to seU ? The poet's name is William 
EUery Channing, is it not ? And if a man has not a 
right to the use of his own name, to the use of what 
has he a right ? And could the poet have reconcUed 
it to his conscience to have injured the sale of his 
own volume by any uncaUed-f or announcement upon 
the title-page, or in a preface, to the effect that he is 

30 



William Bllery Channing 

not his father, but only his father's very intelligent 
son? To put the case more clearly by reference to 
oor old friends, Hr. Smith and Mr. Jones: Is either 
Mr. Smith, when mistaken for Socrates, or Hr. Jones, 
when accosted as Napoleon, bound by any conceivable 
species <rf honor to inform the whole world — ^the one, 
that he is not Socrates, but only Socrates &nlth; the 
other, that he is by no means Vapoleon Buonaparte, 
but only Hfqwleon Buonaparte Jones 7 



J. Fenimore Cooper 



m 



YANDOTTEf or, Tht Hutted Knoll,)B,in.i\» 
general features, precisely ^milar to the 
novels entunerated in the tide.' It is a 
forest subject; and, when we say tiiis, we give assur- 
ance that die stoiy is a good one ; for Hr, Cooper has 
never been known to fail, either in the forest or upon 
tiie sea. the interest, as usual, has no reference to 
plot, of which, indeed, our novelist seems altogether 
regardless, or incapable, but depends, first, upon the 
nature of the theme; secondly, upon e Robinson- 
Crusoe-likfl detail in its management : ntn) thirdly, 
upon the frequently repeated portraiture of the balf- 
dviiized Indian. In saying that the interest depends, 
first, upon tiie nature of the theme, we mean to sug- 

> rnaifaWf at, Tbi Mow KiaB. A tdia, br tts ■ntfaor cf TSt PlbBaim 
Dca^TB, Lmtat^ Ibtktai. Ploetta. PnMi, «c PhlkiltlpltU : Lm * 
Bluutivd. 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

gest that this theme — ^lif e in the wilderness — ^is one of 
intrinsic and universal interest, appealing to the heart 
of man in all phases; a theme, like that of life upon 
the ocean, so unfailingly omniprevalent in its power 
of arresting and absorbing attention, that while suc- 
cess or popularity is, with such a subject, expected as a 
matter of course, a failure might be properly regarded 
as conclusive evidence of imbecility on the part of 
the author. The two theses in question have been 
handled usque ad nauseam, and this through the in- 
stinctive perception of the universal interest which 
appertains to them. A writer distrustful of his powers 
can scarcely do better than discuss either one or the 
other. A man of genius will rarely, and should never, 
undertake either; first, because both are excessively 
hackneyed; and, secondly, because the reader never 
fails, in forming his opinion of a book, to make dis- 
count, either wittingly or unwittingly, for that intrinsic 
interest which is inseparable from the subject and in- 
dependent of the manner in which it is treated. Very 
few and very dull indeed are those who do not instan- 
taneously perceive the distinction ; and thus there are 
two great classes of fictions: a popular and widely 
circulated class read with pleasure, but without ad- 
miration, in which the author is lost or forgotten, or 
remembered, if at all, with something very nearly 
akin to contempt; and then, a class not so popular, 
not so widely diffused, in which, at every paragraph, 

23 



1 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

arises a distinctiye and liighly pleasurable interest, 
springing from our perception and appreciation of the 
skill employed, or the genius evinced, in the composi- 
tion. After perusal of the one class, we think solely 
of the book; after reading the other, chiefly of the 
author. The former class leads to popularity; the 
latter, to fame. In the former case, the books some- 
times live, while the authors usually die ; in the latter, 
even when the works perish, the man survives. 
Among American writers of the less generally cir- 
culated, but more worthy and more artistical, fictions, 
we may mention Mr. Brockden Brown, Mr. John Neal, 
Mr. Simms, Mr. Hawthorne; at the head of the more 
popular division we may place Mr. Cooper. 

The Hutted KaoH without pretending to detail facts, 
gives a narrative of fictitious events, similar, in nearly 
all respects, to occurrences which actually happened 
during the opening scenes of the Revolution, and at 
other epochs of our history. It pictures the dangers, 
difficulties, and distresses of a large family, living, 
completely insulated, in the forest The tale com- 
mences with a description of the ** region which lies 
in the ang^e formed by the junction of the Mohavrtc 
with the Hudson, extending as far south as the line of 
Pennsylvania, and west to the verge of that vast rolling 
plain which composes Western New York," a region 
of which the novelist has already frequently written, 
and the whole of which, with a trivial exception, was 

34 



-, • I 



.. ") 



'-li,[ " 



J. Fenimore Cooper. 



^ i: 



' 1 
t 



, c t. •:- 



1 * a 3 



^ \ ;. "* a f' 'Ti 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

a wilderness before the Revolution. Within this dis- 
trict, and on a creek running into the Unadillai a 
certain Captain 'Vmioughby purchases an estate or 
*^ patent,'' and there retires, with his family and de- 
pendents, to pass the close of his life in agricultural 
pursuits. He has been an officer in the British army, 
but, after serving many years, has sold his commission, 
and purchased one for his only son, Robert, who alone 
does not accompany the party into the forest. This 
party consists of the captain himself, his wife, his 
daughter, Beulah, an adopted daughter, Maud Mere- 
dith, an invalid sergeant, Joyce, who had served under 
the captain, a Presbyterian preacher, Mr. Woods, a 
Scotch mason, Jamie Allen, an Irish laborer, Michael 
O'Heam, a Connecticut man, Joel Strides, four ne- 
groes. Old Plin and Young Plin, Big Smash and Little 
Smash, eight axemen, a house-carpenter, a mill- 
wright, etc., etc. Besides these, a Tuscarora Indian 
called ffick, or Wyandotte, accompanies the expe- 
dition. This Indian, who figures largely in the story, 
and gr^es it its title, may be considered as the principal 
character — ^the one chiefly elaborated. He is an out- 
cast from his tribe, has been known to Captain Wil- 
loughby for thirty years, and is a compound of all the 
good and bad qualities which make up the character 
of the half-dvilized Indian. He does not remain with 
the settlers, but appears and reappears at intervals 
upon the scene. 

as 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

Nearly the whole of the first volume is occupied with 
a detailed account of the estate purchased (which is 
termed '* The Hutted SInoll," from a natural mound 
upon which the principal house is built)| and of the 
progressive arrangements and improvements. To- 
ward the close of the volume the Revolution com- 
mences; and the party at the ** Knoll " are besieged 
by a band of savages and ** rebels,'' with whom an 
understanding exists on the part of Joel Strides, the 
Yankee. This traitor, instigated by the hope of pos- 
sessing Captain Willoughby's estate, should it be con- 
fiscated, brings about a series of defections from the 
party of the settlers, and finally, deserting himself, re- 
duces the whole number to six or seven capable of 
bearing arms. Captain Willoughby resolves, how- 
ever, to defend his post. His son, at this juncture, 
pays him a clandestine visit, and, endeavoring to re- 
connoitre the position of the Indians, is made captive. 
The captain, in an attempt at rescue, is murdered by 
Wyandotte, whose vindictive passions had been 
aroused by ill-timed allusions, on the part of Wil- 
loughby, to fioggings previously inflicted, by his or- 
ders, upon the Indian. Wyandotte, however, having 
satisfied his personal vengeance, is still an ally of the 
settlers. He guides Maud, who is beloved by Robert, 
to the hut in which the latter is confined, and effects 
his escape. Aroused by this escape, the Indians pre- 
cipitate their attack upon the ** EnoU," which, through 

26 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

the previous treachery of Strides in ill-hanging a gate, 
is immediately carried. Mrs. Willoughby, Beulah, 
and others of the party are killed. Maud is secreted 
and thus saved by Wyandotte. At the last moment, 
when all is apparently lost, a reinforcement appears, 
under command of Evert Beekman, the husband of 
Beulah, and the completion of the massacre is pre- 
vented. Woods, the preacher, had left the *' Knoll," 
and made his way through the enemy, to inform Beek- 
man of the dilemma of his friends. Maud and Robert 
WiUoughby are, of course, happily married. The con- 
cluding scene of the novel shows us Wyandotte re- 
penting the murder of Willoughby, and converted to 
Christianity through the agency of Woods. 

It will be at once seen that there is nothing original 
in this story. On the contrary, it is even excessively 
commonplace. The lover, for example, rescued from 
captivity by the mistress; the '' Knoll '' carried through 
the treachery of an inmate; and the salvation of the 
besieged, at the very last moment, by a reinforce- 
ment arriving, in consequence of a message borne to 
a friend by one of the besieged, without the cognizance 
of thte others ; these, we say, are incidents which have 
been the common property of every novelist since the 
invention of letters. And as for plot, there has been 
no attempt at an]rthing of the kind. The tale is a 
mere succession of events, scarcely any one of which 
has any necessary dependence upon any one other. 

27 



J. Fenimore Cooper 



Plot, however, is at best, an artificial effect, requir- 
ing, like music, not only a natural bias, but long culti- 
vation of taste for its full appreciation; some of the 
finest narratives in the world — GilMas and RoUnBon 
Crusoe, for example — ^have been written without its 
employment; and The Hutted Knott, like all the sea 
and forest novels of Cooper, has been made deeply 
interesting, although depending upon this peculiar 
source of interest not at all. Thus the absence of 
plot can never be critically regarded as a defect; 
although its judicious use, in all cases aiding and in 
no case injuring other effects, must be regarded as of 
a very high order of merit 

There are one or two points, however, in the mere 
conduct of the story now before us, which may, per- 
haps, be considered as defective. For instance, there 
is too much obviousness in all that appertains to the 
hanging of the large gate. In more than a dozen 
instances Mrs. Willoughby is made to allude to the 
delay in the hanging; so that the reader is too posi- 
tively and pointedly forced to perceive that this delay 
is to result in the capture of the '* KnolL" As we are 
never in doubt of the fact, we feel diminished interest 
when it actually happens. A single vague allusion, 
well managed, would have been in the true artistical 
spirit. 

Again: we see too plainly, from the first, that Beek- 
man is to marry Beulah, and that Robert 'VIHlloughby 

28 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

Is to marry Maud. The kiUing of Beulah, of Mn. 
Willoughby, and Jamie Allen produces, too, a painful 
impression, which does not properly appertain to the 
rig^t fiction. Their deaths affect us as revolting and 
supererogatory, since the purposes of the story are 
not thereby furthered in any regard. To WOloughby's 
murder, however distressing, the reader makes no 
similar objection; merely because in his decease is ful- 
filled a species of poetical justice. We may observe 
here, nevertheless, that his repeated references to his 
flogging the Indian seem unnatural, because we have 
otherwise no reason to think him a fool or a mad- 
man, and these references, under the circumstances, 
are absolutely insensate. We object, also to the 
manner in which the general interest is dragged out, 
or suspended. The besieging party are kept before the 
«« Knoll " so long, while so little is done, and so many 
opportunities of action are lost, that the reader takes 
it for granted that nothing of consequence wUl occur — 
that the besieged will be finally delivered. He gets 
so accustomed to the presence of danger that its ex- 
citement at length departs. The action is not sufii- 
dently rapid. There is too much procrastination. 
There is too much mere talk for talk's sake. The 
interminable discussions between Woods and Captain 
Willoughby are, perhaps, the worst feature of the 
book, for they have not even the merit of referring to 
the matters on hand. In general, there is quite too 

29 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

much colloquy for the purpose of manifesting char- 
acter, and too little for the explanation of motive. 
The characters of the drama would have been better 
made out by action; while the motives to action, the 
reasons for the different courses of conduct adopted 
by the dramatis personate might have been made to 
proceed more satisfactorily from their own mouths 
in casual conversations than from that of the author 
in person. To conclude our remarks upon the head 
of ill-conduct in the story, we may mention occasional 
incidents of the merest melodramatic absurdity; as, 
for example, at page 156, of the second volume, where 
'* Willoughby had an arm around the waist of Maud, 
and bore her forward with a rapidity to which her own 
strength was entirely unequal.'^ We may be per- 
mitted to doubt whether a young lady, of sound health 
and limbs, exists, within the limits of Christendom, 
who could not run faster, on her own proper feet, 
for any considerable distance, than she could be 
carried upon one arm of either the Cretan Hilo or of 
the Hercules Famese. 

On the other hand, it would be easy to designate 
many particulars which are admirably handled. The 
love of Maud Meredith for Robert 'WHlloughby is 
painted with exquisite skill and truth. The incident 
of the tress of hair and box is naturally and effectively 
conceived. A fine collateral interest is thrown over the 
whole narrative by the connection of the theme with 

30 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

that of fhe Revolution; and, especially, there is an 
excellent dramatic point, at page 124 of the second 
volume, where Wyandotte, remembering the stripes 
inflicted upon him by Captain ^VHlloughby, is about 
to betray him to his foes, when his purpose is arrested 
by a casual glimpse, through the forest, of the hut 
which contains Mrs. WUloughby, who had preserved 
the life of the Indian by inoculation for the smallpox. 
In the depicting of character, Mr. Cooper has been 
unusually successful in Wyandotte, One or two 
of his personages, to be sure, must be regarded as 
little worth. Robert WUloughby, like most novel 
heroes, is a nobody; that is to say, there is nothing 
about him which may be looked upon as distinctive. 
Perhaps he is rather silly than otherwise; as, for in- 
stance, when he confuses all his father's arrange- 
ments for his concealment, and bursts into the room 
before Strides, afterward insisting upon accompany- 
ing that person to the Indian encampment, without 
any posable or impossible object. Woods, the par- 
son, is a sad bore, upon the Dominie Sampson plan, 
and is, moreover, caricatured. Of Captain Willough- 
by we have already spoken — ^he is too often on stilts. 
Evert Beekman and Beulah are merely episodicaL 
Joyce is nothing in the world but Corporal Trim; or, 
rather. Corporal Trim and water. Jamie Allen, with 
his prate about Catholicism, is insufferable. But 
Mrs. Willoughby, the humble, shrinking, womanly 

31 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

wife, whose whole existence centres in her affections, 
is worthy of Mr. Cooper. Maud Meredith is still better. 
In fact, we know no female portraiture, even in Scott, 
which surpasses her ; and yet the world has been given 
to understand, by the enemies of the novelist, that he 
is incapable of depicting a woman. Joel Strides will 
be recognized by all who are conversant with his 
general prototypes of Connecticut. Michael O'Heam, 
the County Leitrim man, is an Irishman all over, and 
his portraiture abounds in humor; as, for example, 
at page 31 of the first volume, where he has a difficulty 
with a sldff, not being able to account for its revolving 
upon its own axis, instead of moving forwardi or 
at page 132, where, during divine service, to exclude 
at least a portion of the heretical doctrine, he stops 
one of his ears with his thumb; or, at page 195, 
where a passage occurs so much to our purpose that 
we will be pardoned for quoting it in full. Captain 
Willoughby is drawing his son up through a window, 
from his enemies below. The assistants, placed at a 
distance from this window to avoid observation from 
without, are ignorant of what burthen is at the end 
of the rope: 

« The men did as ordered, raising their load from 
the ground a foot or two at a time. In this manner 
the burthen approached, yard after yard, until it was 
evidently drawing near the window. 

3» 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

<« «It '8 the captain hoisting up the tng baste of a hogy 
for provisioning the hoose again a saige/ whispered 
IGke to the negroes, who grinned as they tugged; 
' and, when the craitur squails, see to it that ye do 
not squail yourselves.' At that moment the head 
and shoulders of a man appeared at the window. 
IGke let go the rope, seized a chair, and was about to 
knock the intruder upon the head; but the captain 
arrested the blow. 

** * It 's one o' the vagabone Injins that has under- 
mined the hog and come up in its stead/ roared Mike. 

<< < It 's my son,' said the captain; ' see that you 
are silent and secret.' " 

The negroes are, without exception, admirably 
drawn. The Indian, Wyandotte, however, is the 
great feature of the book, and is, in every respect, 
equal to the previous Indian creations of the author 
of The Pioneer, Indeed, we think this '* forest gentle- 
man " superior to the other noted heroes of his kind, 
the heroes which have been immortalized by our 
novelist His keen sense of the distinction, in his 
own character, between the chief, Wyandotte, and 
the drunken vagabond. Sassy Nick; his chivalrous 
delicacy toward Maud, in never disclosing to her that 
knowledge of her real feelings toward Robert Will- 
oughby, which his own Indian intuition had discovered ; 
his enduring animosity toward Captain Willoughby, 

VOL. Tnx^— 3. «« 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

softenedi and for thirty years delayed, through his 
gratitude to the wife; and then, the vengeance con- 
summated, his pity for that wife conflicting with his 
exultation at the deed, — ^these, we say, are all traits of 
a lofty excellence indeed. Perhaps the most effective 
passage in the book, and that which most distinctively 
brings out the character of the Tuscarora, is to be 
found at pages 50, 51, 52, and 53 of the second vol- 
ume, where, for some trivial misdemeanor, the cap- 
tain threatens to make use of the whip. The manner 
in which the Indian harps upon the threat, returning 
to it again and again, in every variety of phrase, forms 
one of the finest pieces of mere character-painting 
with which we have any acquaintance. 

The most obvious and most unaccountable faults 
of The Hutted KnoH are those which appertain to 
the style — ^to the mere grammatical construction ; for, 
in other and more important particulars of style, Mr. 
Cooper, of late days, has made a very manifest im- 
provement. His sentences, however, are arranged 
with an awkwardness so remarkable as to be matter 
of absolute astonishment, when we consider the educa- 
tion of the author, and his long and continual practice 
with the pen. In minute descriptions of localities, 
any verbal inaccuracy or confusion becomes a 
source of vexation and misunderstanding, detracting 
very much from the pleasure of perusal; and in these 
inaccuracies Wyandotte abounds. Although, for in- 

34 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

stance, we carefully read and reread that portion of the 
narrative which details the situation of the '* KnoUi" 
and the construction of the buildings and walls about 
it, we were forced to proceed with the story without 
any exact or definite impressions upon the subject. 
Similar difficulties, from similar causes, occur passim 
throughout the book* For example, at page 41, vol. i. : 

'* The Indian gazed at the house, with that fierce 
intentness which sometimes glared, in a manner that 
had got to be, in its ordinary aspects, dull and be- 
sotted." This it is utterly impossible to comprehend. 
We presume, however, the intention is to say that 
although the Indian's ordinary manner (of gazing) 
had '* got to be " dull and besotted, he occasionally 
gazed with an intentness that glared, and that he 
did so in the instance in question. The '* got to be " 
is atrocious; the whole sentence no less so. 

Here at page 9, vol. L, is something excessively 
vague: *' Of the latter character is the face of most of 
that region which lies in the angle formed by the 
junction of the Mohawk with the Hudson," etc., etc. 
The Mohawk, joining the Hudson, forms two angles, 
of course, an acute and an obtuse one; and, without 
further explanation, it is difficult to say which is 
intended. 

At page 55, vol. i., we read: *' The captain, owing 
to his English education, had avoided straight lines 
and formal paths, giving to the littie spot the 

35 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

improyement on nature ^rtiich is a consequence of 
embellishing her works without destro3ring them. 
On each side of this lawn was an orchard, thrifty and 
yotmgy and which were already beginning to show 
signs of putting forth their blossoms." Here we are 
tautologically informed that improvement is a conse- 
quence of embellishment, and supererogatorily told 
that the rule holds good only where the embellishment 
is not accompanied by destruction. Upon the ^^ each 
orchard were ^it is needless to comment. 

At page 30, vol L, is something similar, where 
Strides is represented as *' never doing anything that 
required a particle more than the exertion and strength 
that were absolutely necessary to effect his object." 
Did Mr. C. ever hear of any labor that required more 
exertion than was necessary ? He means to say that 
Strides exerted himself no further than was necessary, 
that 's all. 

At page 59, vol. L, we find this sentence: ''He 
was advancing by the only road that was ever travelled 
by the stranger as he approached the hut; or, he 
came up the valley." This is merely a vagueness of 
speech. '' Or " is intended to imply '' that is to say." 
The whole would be clearer thus : *' He was advan- 
cing by the valley, the only road travelled by a stranger 
approaching the hut." We have here sixteen words, 
instead of Mr. Cooper's twenty-five. 

At page 8, vol. ii., is an unpardonable awkwardness, 

36 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

although an awkwardness strictly grammaticaL <' I 
was a favorite, I believe, with, certainly was much 
petted by, both." Upon this we need make no further 
observation. It speaks for itself. 

We are aware, however, that there is a certain air 
of unfairness in thus quoting detached passages for an- 
imadversion of this kind ; for, however strictly at ran- 
dom our quotations may really be, we have, of course, 
no means of proving the fact to our readers; and there 
are no authors from whose works individual inaccurate 
sentences may not be culled. But we mean tosay that 
Mr. Cooper, no doubt through haste or neglect, is re- 
markably and especially inaccurate, as a general rule ; 
and, by the way of demonstrating this assertion, we 
will dismiss our extracts at random and discuss some 
entire page of his composition. More than this: we 
will endeavor to select that particular page upon which 
it might naturally be supposed he would bestow the 
most careful attention. The reader will say at once: 
'* Let this be his first page — ^the first page of his pref- 
ace." This page, then, shall be taken, of course. 

<< The history of the borders is filled with legends of 
the sufferings of isolated families, during the troubled 
scenes of colonial warfare. Those which we now offer 
to the reader are distinctive in many of their lead- 
ing facts, if not rigidly true in the details. The first 
alone is necessary to the legitimate objects of fiction." 

37 



J. Penimore Cooper 



'' Abounds witb legendSi" would be better than << is 
filled with legends "; for it is clear that if the history 
were filled with legends, it would be all legend and no 
history. The word *' of," too, occurs, in the first sen- 
tence, with an unpleasant frequency. The *^ those *' 
commencing the second sentence grammatically refers 
to the noun ** scenes " immediately preceding, but is 
intended for << legends.*' The adjective << distinct 
tive " is vaguely and altogether improperly employed. 
Mr. C, we believe, means to say, merely, that although 
the details of his legend may not be strictly true, facts 
similar to his leading ones have actually occurred. By 
use of the word ** distinctive," however, he has con- 
trived to convey a meaning nearly converse. In saying 
that his legend is ** distinctive " in many of the leading 
facts, he has said what he clearly did not wish to say; 
viz., that his legend contained facts which distin- 
guished it from all other legends; in other words, 
facts never before discussed in other legends, and be- 
longing peculiariy to his own. That Mr. C. did mean 
what we suppose, is rendered evident by the third 
sentence : ** The first alone is necessary to the legiti- 
mate objects of fiction." This third sentence itself, 
however, is very badly constructed. ** The first " can 
refer, grammatically, only to ** facts " ; but no such 
reference is intended. If we ask the question. What 
is meant by *^ the first " 7 what ^' alone is necessary 
to the legitimate objects of fiction"? the natural 

38 



J. Penimore Cooper 

reply is *' that facts similar to the leading ones have 
actually happened." The drctunstance is alone to 
be cared for — ^this consideration << alone is necessary 
to the legitimate objects of fiction." 

'* One of the misfortunes of a nation is to hear 
nothing besides its own praises." This is the fourth 
sentence, and is by no means lucid. The design is 
to say that individuals composing a nation, and living 
altogether within the national bounds, hear from each 
other only praises of the nation, and that this is a mis- 
fortune to the individuals, since it misleads them in 
regard to the actual condition of the nation. Here it 
will be seen that, to convey the intended idea, we have 
been forced to make distinction between the nation 
and its individual members; for it is evident that a 
nation is considered as such only in reference to other 
nations; and thus as a nation, it hears very much 
'* beades its own praises "; that is to say, it hears 
the detractions of other rival nations. In endeavoring 
to compel his meaning within the compass of a brief 
sentence, Mr. Cooper has completely sacrificed its in- 
tdligibiUty. 

The fifth sentence runs thus: ^'Although the 
American Revolution was probably as just an effort 
as was ever made by a people to resist the first inroads 
of oppression, the cause had its evil aspects, as well as 
all other human struggles." 

The American Revolution is here improperly called 

39 



J. Penimore Cooper 

an ** effort" The effort was the cause, of which the 
Revolution was the result A rebellion is an '* effort " 
to effect a revolution. An ''inroad of oppression*' 
involves an untrue metaphor; for ''inroad** apper- 
tains to aggression, to attack, to active assault " The 
cause had its evil aspects as well as all other human 
struggles " implies that the cause had not only its 
evil aspects, but had, also, all other human struggles. 
If the words must be retained at all, they should be 
thus arranged: " The cause, like [or as well as] all 
other human struggles, had its evil aspects '* ; or better 
thus: " The cause had its evil aspect, as have all 
human struggles." " Other " is superfluous. 

The sixth sentence is thus written: " We have been 
so much accustomed to hear everything extolled, of 
late years, that could be dragged into the remotest 
connection with that great event, and the principles 
which led to it, that there is danger of overlooking 
truth in a pseudo patriotism." The " of late years," 
here, should follow the " accustomed,'* or precede the 
"we have been"; and the Greek "pseudo" is 
objectionable, since its exact equivalent is to be found 
in the English " false." " Spurious " would be better, 
perhaps, than either. 

Inadvertences such as these sadly disfigure the style 
of The Hutted Knoll f and every true friend of its 
author must regret his inattention to the minor morals 
of the Muse. But these " minor morals,'* it may be 

40 



J. Fenimore Cooper 

said, are trifles at tMst. Perhaps so. At all events, 
we should never have thought of dwelling so pertina- 
doualy upon the unessential demerits of WyandettCt 
could we have discovered an; more momentoos uptm 
irtiich to ctnninent. 



R. H. Home' 



MjCUK. R. H. HORUE, the author of Iba OHoa, 
iK m. has of late years acquired a high and ^- 
^■ri tensive home reputation, although, as }ret, 
he is only partially known in America. He will be re- 
membered, however, as the author of a very well- 
written introduction to Black's translation of Schlegel's 
Lecturea oa Dramatie Art atid Literature, and as a 
contributor with Wordsworth, Hunt, Hiss Barrett, 
and others, to " Chaucer Hodemized." He is the 
author, also, of Couno de Medjd, of The Death of 
Marlowe, and, especially, of Gregory the Sereath, a 
fine tragedy, prefaced with an ** Essay on Tragic Influ- 
ence." OHon was originally advertised to be sold for 
a farthing; and at this price three large editions 
were actually sold. The fourth edition (a specimen 
of which now lies before us) was issued at a shilling, 
and also sold. A fifth is promised at half a crown; 
this likewise, with even a mzth at a crown, may be 

> Orioai Aa Epk Ftim b Tbnf Bteb. By S. H. Hon*. Fonrth BdiaoB. 



R* Urn Home 



disposed of, partly through the intrinsic merit of t^e 
work itself, but chiefly through the ingenious novelty 
of the original price. 

We have been among the earliest readers of Mr. 
Home, among the most earnest admirers of his high 
genius; for a man of high, of the highest genius, he 
unquestionably is. With an eager wish to do justice to 
his Gregory the Seventh, we have never yet found 
exactly that opportunity we desired. Meantime, we 
looked with curiosity for what the British critics 
would say of a work which, in the boldness of its con- 
ception, and in the fresh originality of its manage- 
ment, would necessarily fall beyond the routine of 
their customary verbiage. We saw nothing, however, 
that either could or should be understood; nothing, 
certainly, that was worth understanding. The tra- 
gedy itself was, tmhappily, not devoid of the ruling 
cant of the day, and its critics (that cant incarnate) 
took their cue from some of its infected passages, 
and proceeded forthwith to rhapsody and aesthetics, 
by way of giving a commonnsense public an intelligent 
idea of the book. By the ^'cant of the day" we 
mean the £sgusting practice of putting on the airs 
of an owl, and endeavoring to look miraculously wise ; 
the affectation of second sight, of a species of ecstatic 
prescience, of an intensely bathetic penetration into 
all sorts of mysteries, psychological ones in especial; 
an Orphic, an ostrich affectation, which buries its 

43 



R. H* Home 



head in balderdash, and, seeing nothing itself, fancies, 
therefore, that its preposterous carcass is not a visible 
object of derision for the world at large. 

Of Qrhn itself, we have, as yet, seen few notices in 
the British periodicals, and these few are merely repe- 
titions of the old jargon. All that has been said, for 
example, might be summed up in some such para- 
graph as this: 

^ Orion is the earnest outpouring of the oneness of 
the psychological Man. It has the individuality of 
the true Singleness. It is not to be regarded as a 
Poem, but as a Work, as a multiple Theogony, as 
a manifestation of the Works and the Days. It is a 
pinion in the Progress, a wheel in the Movement that 
moveth ever and goeth alwajrs, a mirror of Self- 
Inspection, held up by the Seer of the Age essential, 
of the Age in esse / for the Seers of the Ages possible, 
in po88e0 We hail a brother in the work." 

Of the mere opinions of the donkejrs who bray thus, 
of their mere dogmas and doctrines, literary, asstheti- 
cal, or what not, we know little, and, upon our honor, 
we wish to know less. Occupied, Laputacally, in their 
great work of a progress that never progresses, we 
take it for granted, also, that they care as little about 
ours. But whatever the opinions of these people may 
be, however portentous the ^* Idea " which they have 
been so long threatening to *< evolve," we still think 
it clear that they take a very roundabout way of 

44 



R* H. Home 



OTotving it. The use of language is in tbe promul- 
gation of thought. If a man, if an Orphicist, or a 
Seer, or whatever else he may choose to call himself, 
while the rest of the world calls him an ass, — if this 
gentleman have an idea which he does not understand 
himself, the best thing he can do is to say nothing 
about it; for, of course, he can entertain no hope that 
what he, the Seer, cannot comprehend should be com- 
prehended by the mass of conunon humanity; but if 
he have an idea which is actually intelligible to himself, 
and if he sincerely wishes to render it intelligible to 
others, we then hold it as indisputable that he should 
employ those forms of speech which are the best 
adapted to further his object. He should speak to 
the people in that people's ordinary tongue. He 
should arrange words such as are habitually employed 
for the several preliminary and introductory ideas to 
be conveyed — ^he should arrange them in collocations 
such as those in which we are accustomed to see those 
words arranged. 

But to all this the Orphidst thus replies: *' I am a 
Seer. My Idea, the idea which by providence I am 
especially commissioned to evolve, is one so vast, so 
novel, that ordinary words, in ordinary collocations, 
will be insufficient for its comfortable evolution.'' 
Very true. We grant the vastness of the idea — it is 
manifested in the sucking of the thumb; but, then, 
if ordinary language be insufficient, ordinary language 

45 



R. H. Home 



which men understand, a hrthri will be insufficient 
that inordinate language which no man has ever 
understood, and which any well-educated baboon 
would blush in being accused of understanding. The 
'* Seer,'' therefore, has no other resource but to oblige 
mankind by holding his tongue, suffering his Idea to 
remain quietly "unevolved," until some mesmeric 
mode of intercommunication shall be invented, whereby 
the antipodal brains of the Seer and of the man of 
Common Sense shall be brought into the necessary 
rapport. Meantime we earnestly ask if bread-and- 
butter be the vast Idea in question, if bread-and- 
butter be any portion of this vast idea 7 for we have 
often observed that when a Seer has to speak of even 
so usual a thing as bread-and-butter, he can never 
be induced to mention it outright. He will, if you 
choose, say anything and everything but bread-and- 
butter. He will consent to hint at buckwheat cake. 
He may even accommodate you so far as to insinuate 
oatmeal porridge; but, if bread-and-butter be really 
the matter intended, we never yet met the Orphicist 
who could get out the three individual words '* bread- 
and-butter." 

We have already said that Gregory tbcSeyentb was 
tmhappily infected with the customary cant of the 
day, the cant of the muddle-pates who dishonor a 
profound and ennobling philosophy by styling them- 
selves transcendentalists. In fact, there are few highly 

46 



R. H« Home 



sensithre or imagixiatiye intellects for which the vor- 
tex of mysticism, in any shape, has not an almost 
irresistible influence, on account of the shadowy con- 
fines which separate the unknown from the sublime. 
Mr. Home, then, is, in some measure, infected. The 
success of his previous works has led him to attempt, 
zealously, the production of a poem which should be 
worthy his bigfi powers. We have no doubt that he 
revolved carefully in mind a variety of august con- 
ceptions, and from these thoughtfully selected what 
his judgment rather than what his impulses desig- 
nated as the noblest and the best In a word, he has 
weakly yielded his own poetic sentiment of the poetic ; 
yielded it, in some degree, to the pertinacious opinion 
and talk of a certain junto by which he is surrounded, 
— a junto of dreamers whose absolute intellect may, 
perhaps, compare with his own very much after the 
fashion of an ant-hill with the Andes. By this talk, 
by its continuity rather than by any other quality it 
possessed, he has been badgered into the attempt at 
commingling the obstinate oils and waters of poetry 
and of truth. He has been so far blinded as to 
permit himself to imagine that a maudlin philosophy 
(granting it to be worth enforcing) could be enforced 
by poetic imagery, and illustrated by the jin^^dng of 
rhythm; or, more unpardonably, he has been induced 
to believe that a poem, whose single object is the 
creation of beauty, the novel collocation of old forms 

47 



R. H* Home 



of tbe beautiful and of the sublime, could be advanced 
by the abstractions of a maudlin philosophy. 

But the question is not even this. It is not whether 
it be not possible to introduce didacticism, with effect, 
into a poem, or possible to introduce poetical images 
and measures, with effect, into a didactic essay. To 
do either the one or the other would be merely to sur- 
mount a difficulty, would be simply a feat of literary 
sleight of hand. But the true question is, whether 
the author who shall attempt either feat will not be 
laboring at a disadvantage, will not be guilty of afruit- 
less and wasteful expenditure of energy. In minor 
poetical efforts, we may not so imperatively demand an 
adherence to the true poetical thesis. We permit tri- 
ffing to some extent in a work which we consider a trifle 
at best. Although we agree, for example, with Cole- 
ridge, that poetry and passion are discordant, yet we are 
willing to permit Tennjrson to bring, to the intense pas- 
sion which prompted his Locksley HaH the aid of that 
terseness and pungency which are derivable from 
rhythm and from rhyme. The effect he produces, how- 
ever, is a purely passionate, and not, unless in detached 
passages of this magnificent philippic, a properly poetic, 
effect. His Oenone, on the other hand, exalts the 
soul not into passion, but into a conception of pure 
beauty, which in its elevation, its calm and intense 
rapture, has in it a foreshadowing of the future and 
q)iritual life, and as far transcends earthly passion as 

48 



R. H. Home 



the holy radiance of the sun does the gUmmeiing and 
feeble phosphorescence of the glowworm. His Morte 
d'Artbur is in the same majestic vein. The Sensitive 
Plant of Shelley is in the same sublime spirit. Nor, 
if the passionate poems of Byron excite more intensely 
a greater number of readers than either the Oenone 
or the Sensitive Plant, does this indisputable fact prove 
anything more than that the majority of mankind are 
more susceptible of the impulses of passion than of 
the impressions of beauty. Readers do exist, how- 
ever, and alwajrs will exist, who, to hearts of madden- 
ing fervor, unite, in perfection, the sentiment of the 
beautiful, — ^that divine sixth sense which is yet so 
faintly understood; that sense which phrenology has 
attempted to embody in its organ of ideality; that 
sense which is the basis of all Cousin's dreams; that 
sense which speaks of God through his purest, if not 
his sole, attribute; which proves, and which alone 
proves His existence. 

To readers such as these, and only to such as these, 
must be left the decision of what the true poesy is. 
And these, with no hesitation, will decide that the 
origin of poetry lies in a thirst for a wilder beauty 
than earth supplies ; that poetry itself is the imperfect 
effort to quench this immortal thirst by novel com- 
binations of beautiful forms (collections of forms), 
phydcal or spiritual, and that this thirst when even 
partially allayed, this sentiment when even feebly 

VOL, Till.— <4. ^Q 



R. H. Home 



meeting response, produces emotion to which all otiier 
human emotions are vapid and insignificant. 

We shall now be fuUy understood. If, with Cole- 
ridge, who, however erring at times, was precisely 
the mind fitted to decide a question such as this; if, 
with him, we reject passion from the true, from the 
pure poetry; if we reject even passion; if we discard as 
feeble, as unworthy the high spirituality of the theme 
(which has its origin in a sense of the Godhead) ; if 
we dismiss even the nearly divine emotion of human 
love, that emotion which, merely to name, causes the 
pen to tremble, — ^with how much greater reason shall 
we dismiss all else? And yet there are men v4io 
would mingle with the august theme the merest 
questions of expediency, the cant tojdcs of the day, 
the doggerel aesthetics of the time ; who would trammel 
the soul in its fii|^t to an ideal Helusion, by the 
quirks and quibbles of chopped logic. There are men 
who do this; lately there are a set of men who make 
a practice of doing this, and ^riio defend it on the score 
of the advancement of what they suppose to be truth. 
Truth is, in its own essence, sublime, but her loftiest 
sublimity, as derived from man's clouded and erratic 
reason, is valueless, is pulseless, is utterly ineffective 
when brought into comparison with the unerring sense 
of which we speak; yet grant this truth to be all 
which its seekers and worshippers pretend, they forget 
that it is not truth per BCf which is made their thesis, 

so 



R. H. Home 



Imt an argumentation, often maiiillin and pedantic, 
always shallow and unsatisfactory (as from the mere 
inadaptation of the vehicle it must be), by which this 
truth, in casual and indeterminate glimpses, is, or is 
not, rendered manifest 

We have said that, in minor poetical efforts, we 
may tolerate some deflection from the true poetical 
thesis; but when a man of the highest powers sets 
himself seriously to the task of constructing what 
shall be most worthy of those powers, we expect 
that he shall so choose his theme as to render it cer- 
tain that he labor not at disadvantage. We regret 
to see any trivial or partial imperfection of detail; 
but we grieve deeply when we detect any radical error 
of conception* 

In setting about Orhn^ Mr. Home proposed to him- 
self (in accordance with the views of his junto) to 
^ elaborate a morality "; he ostensibly proposed this 
to himself; for, in the depths of his heart we know 
that he wished all juntos and all moralities in Erebus. 
In accordance with the notions of this set, however, 
he felt a species of shamef acedness in not making 
the enforcement of some certain dogmas or doctrines 
(questionable or unquestionable) about progress the 
obvious or apparent object of his poem. This shame- 
facedness is the cue to the concluding sentence of the 
preface: '* Meantime, the design of this poem of Qr/oxi 
is far from being intended as a mere echo or reflection 

51 



R. H. Home 



of the past, and is, in itself, and in otiier respects, a 
novel eiperiment upon the mind of a nation.** Mr. 
Home conceived, in fact, that to compose a poem 
merely for that poem's sake, and to acknowledge such 
to be his purpose, would be to subject himself to the 
charge of imbecility, of triviality, of deficiency in 
the true dignity and force; but had he listened to the 
dictates of his own soul, he could not have failed to 
perceive at once that under the sun there exists no 
work more intrinsically noble than this very poem 
written solely for the poem*s sake. 

But let us regard Orion as it is. It has an under and 
an upper current of meaning; in other words, it is an 
allegory. But the poet*s sense of fitness (which, under 
no circumstances of mere conventional opinion could 
be more than half subdued) has so far softened this 
allegory as to keep it, generally, well subject to the 
ostensible narrative. The purport of the moral con- 
veyed is by no means clear, showing conclusively that 
the heart of the poet was not with it It vacillates. 
At one time a certain set of opinions predominate, then 
another. We may generalize the subject, however, 
by calling it a homily against supineness or apathy 
in the cause of htunan progress, and in favor of ener- 
getic action for the good of the race. This is precisely 
the idea of the present school of canters. How feebly 
the case is made out in the poem, ho w insufficient has 
been all Mr. Home's poetical rhetoric in convincing 



R. H. Home 



even himself , may be gleaned from the unissisal bom- 
bast, rigmarole, and mystification of the concluding 
paragraph, in which he has thought it necessary to say 
something very profound, by way of putting the sting 
to his epigram, the point to his moral. The words 
put us much in mind of the ** nonsense verses " of 
DuBartas. 

And thus, in the end, each soul may to itself , 
With truth before it as its polar guide, 
Become both Time and Nature, whose fizt paths 
Are spiral, and when lost will find new stars, 
And in the universal Movement join: 

The upper current of the theme is based upon the 
various Greek fables about Orion. The author, in 
his brief preface, speahs about '* writing from an old 
Greek fable,'* but his story is, more properly, a very 
judicious selection and modification of a great variety 
of Greek and Roman fables concerning Orion and other 
personages with whom these fables bring Orion in 
collision. And here we have only to object that the 
really magnificent abilities of Mr. Home might have 
been better employed in an entirely original concep- 
tion. The story he tells is beautiful indeed, and nil 
tetigk, certainly, quod non omavitf but our memories, 
our classic recollections are continually at war with 
his claims to regard, and we too often find ourselves 
rather speculating upon what he might have done 
than admiring what he has really accomplished. 

53 



R. H. Home 



The narratiye, as our poet has arranged it, runs 
nearly thus : Orion, hunting on foot amid the moun- 
tains of Chios, encounters Artemis (Diana) with her 
train. The goddess, at first indignant at the giant's 
intrusion upon her grounds, becomes, in the second 
place, enamored. Her pure love spiritualizes the 
merely animal nature of Orion, but does not render 
him happy. He is filled with vague aspirations and 
desires. He buries himself in sensual pleasures. In 
the mad dreams of intoxication, he beholds a vision of 
Merope, the daughter of GSnopion, King of Chios. 
She is the type of physical beauty. She cries in his 
ear: ** Depart from Artemis I She loves thee not; 
thou art too full of earth.'* Awaking, he seeks the 
love of Merope. It is returned. GSnopion, dreading 
the giant and his brethren, yet scorning his pretensions, 
temporizes. He consents to bestow upon Orion the 
hand of Merope, on condition of the island being cleared 
within six days of its savage beasts and serpents. 
Orion, seeking the aid of his brethren, accomplishes 
the task. GSnopion again hesitates. Enraged, the 
giants make war upon him and carry off the princess. 
In a remote grove Orion lives, in bliss, with his earthly 
love. From this delirium of happiness he is aroused 
by the vengeance of (Enopion, who causes him to be 
surprised while asleep and deprived of sight. The 
princess, being retaken, immediately forgets and 
deserts her lover, who, in his wretchedness, seeks, at 

54 



R« H. Home 



the sttggasdon of a shepherd, the aid of Eos (Aurora) 
who, also becoming enamored of him, restores his 
sig^t. The love of Eos, less earthly than that of 
Merope, less cold than that of Artemis, fully satisfies 
his souL He is at length happy. But the jealousy 
of Artemis destroys him. She pierces him with her 
arrows while in the very act of gratefully renovating 
her temple at Delos. In despair, Eos flies to Artemis, 
reproves her, represents to her the baseness of her 
jealousy and revenge, softens her, and obtains her 
consent to unite with herself — ^with Eos — ^in a prayer 
to Zeus (Jupiter) for the restoration of the giant to 
life. The prayer is heard. Orion is not only restored 
to life, but rendered immortal and placed among the 
constellations, where he enjoys forever the pure affec* 
tion of Eos, and becomes extinguished each morning 
in her rays. 

In ancient m3rthology, the giants are meant to typify 
various energies of nature. Pursuing, we suppose, 
this idea, Mr. Home has made his own giants repre- 
sent certain principles of htunan action or passion. 
Thus Orion himself is the worker or builder, and is 
the type of action or movement itself; but, in various 
portions of the poem, this allegorical character is left 
out of sight, and that of speculative philosophy takes 
its place, a mere consequence of the general uncer- 
tainty of purpose, which is the chief defect of the work. 
Sometimes we even find Orion a destroyer, in place 

55 



R* Urn Home 



of a builder; as, for ezan^e, vben he destroyB tibe 
grore about liie temple of Aitanis^ at Ddoe. Hero 
he usurps the proper allegorical attribute of Bhexergon 
(tibe second of the seven giants named), who is tibe 
breaker-down, typifying the revolutionary principle. 
AutSTces, the third, represen ts the mob, or, more 
strictly, waywardness— capridous action. Hsipsx, 
the fourth, serves for rapme; Briastor, tibe fifth, for 
brute force; Encolyon, the sixth, the *^ Chainer of 
the Wheet," for conservatism; and Akinetos, tlie 
seventh, and most elaborated, for apathy. He is 
termed '* The Great Unmoved,*' and in his mouth is 
put all the ** woridly wisdom," or selfishness, of tibe 
tale. The philosophy of Akinetos is, that no merely 
human exertion has any appreciable effect upon the 
movement; and it is amnsiiig to perceive how this 
great truth (for most sincerely do we hold it to be 
such) speaks out from tibe real heart of the poet, 
through his Akinetos, in spite of all endeavor to over- 
throw it by the example of the brighter fate of Orion. 
The death of Akinetos is a singulariy f ordUe and 
poetic conception, and will serve to show how the 
giants are made to perish, generally, during the story, 
in agreement with their allegorical natures. The 
" Great Unmoved " quietly seats himself in a cave 
after the death of all his brethren, except Orion. 

Thus Akinetos sat from day to day. 
Absorbed in indolent sublimity, 

56 



R. H« Home 



Reviewing thoughti and knoidedge o'er and o'er; 

And now he tpake, now sang onto himself, 

Now sank to brooding silence. From above, 

While passing, Time the rock touch'd, and it oozed 

Petxiflc drops, gently at first and slow. 

Redining lonely in his fixed repose, 

The Great Unmoved nnconsdotisly became 

Attached to that he pressed; and soon a part 

Of the rock. There dung ib' ewcreeceaee, UU wtroag beode, 

DeBceooed ttooi GrioOf flisnf Jutfge anmv^ 

And buik eteep waOt, equefing down toek§ hr uee. 

The italicized conclusion of this fine passage affords 
an instance, however, of a very blameable concision, 
too much affected fhroughont the poem. 

In the deaths of Antarces, Harpaz, and Encolyon, 
we recognize the same exceeding vigor of conception. 
These giants conspire against Orion, who seeks the 
aid of Artemis, who, hi her turn, seeks the assistance 
of Phoibos (Phoebus). The conspirators are in a cave, 
Orion. 

Now Phoibas thro' the cave 
Sent a broad ray 1 and lo 1 the solar beam 
Filled the great cave with radiance equable. 
And not a cranny held one speck of shade. 
A moony halo round Orion came. 
As of some pure protecting influence. 
While with intense light glared the walls and roof. 
The heat increasing. The three giants stood 
With glazing eyes, fixed. Terribly the light 
Beat on the dazzled stone, and the cave hummed 

57 



R. H. Home 



With rwMimtng heat, tiU the red hair and beaxd 

Of Hazpax showed no dUference from the reity 

Which once were iron-black. The sullen walls 

Then smouldered down to steady oven-heat, 

like that with care attained when bread has ceased 

Its steaming, and displays an angry tan. 

The appallM faces of the giants showed 

Full consdoQsness of their Immediate doom. 

And soon the cave a potter's fnmace glowed 

Or kiln for largest bricks, and thus remained 

The while Orion, in his halo clasped 

By some invisible power, beheld the day 

Of these his eariy friends change. Life was gone. 

Now sank the heat — ^the cave-walls lost their glare, 

The red lights faded, and the halo pals 

Around him into chilly air expanded. 

There stood the three great images, in hue 

Of chalky white and red, like those strange shi^MS 

In Egypt's ancient tombs; but presently 

Each visage and each form with cracks and flaws 

Was seamed, and the lost countenance brake 1:9, 

As, with brief toppUng, forward prone they felL 



The deaths of Rhexergon and Biastor seem to 
(and this we regret not) the allegorical meaning alto- 
gether, but are related with even more exquisite rich- 
ness and delicacy of imagination than those of the 
other giants. Upon this occasion it is the jealousy of 
Artemis which destroys. 

But with the eve 
Fatigue o'ercame the giants, and they dept 
Dense were the rolling douds, stariess the f^nmi 

58 



R. H. Home 



But o'er a narrow rift, once drawn apart. 

Showing a field remote of Yiolet hue. 

The Idgh moon floated, and her downward ^^eam 

Shone <m the upturned giant faces. Rigid 

Each upper feature, loose the nether jaw; 

Their arms cast wide with open palms; their chests 

Heaving like some large engine. Near them lay 

Their bloody dubs, with dust and hair begrimed. 

Their ^ears and girdles, and the long-noosed thongs. 

Artemis yanished; all again was dark. 

With day's first streak Orion rose, and loudly 

To his companions called. But still they slept 

Again he shouted; yet no limb they stirred, 

Tho' scarcely seven strides distant He approached, 

And hand At gpot, bo Mwtet wMi dower Bower 

When tbey bad coot ibem down^ wn now or r aj ed 

Wkb naanyi^beoded poppieo, like a crowd 

OfduaJkjr BiUppa in a magic cirque 

Wbieh i»ad aprung up beoeaUi diem in the nighi/ 

And aU entranced the air. 

There are several minor defects in Orion^ and 
we may as well mention them here. We sometimes 
meet with an instance of bad taste in a revolting 
picture or image; for example, at page 59 of this 



Naught fearing, swift, brimful of raging life, 
SdiPningAejIayinpoolaoileUiedgore, 

Sometimes, indeed very often, we encounter an alto- 
gether purposeless oddness or foreignness of speech. 
For example, at page 78 : 

59 



R. H. Home 



As in Dodoiui once^ ero driven thence 

By Zeus kt Umt Rhexefgon burnt some oaks. ' 

Mr. Home will find it impossible to assign a good 
reason for not here using ** because." 

Pure vaguenesses of speech abound. For example, 
page 89: 

One central heart iriberein 
Time beats twin poises with humanity. 

Now and then sentences are rendered needlessly 
obscure through mere involution; as at page Z03: 

Star-rays that first played o'er my blinded orbs, 
E'en as they glance above the lids of sleep. 
Who else had never known surprise, nor hope, 
Nor useful action. 

Here the ** who '* has no grammatical antecedent, 
and would naturally be referred to sleep ; whereas it 
is intended for '* me," understood, or involved in the 
pronoun '* my '* ; as if the sentence were written thus: 
'* rays that first played o'er the blinded orbs of me, 
who," etc. It is useless to dwell upon so pure an 
affectation. 

The versification throughout is, generally, of a very 
remarkable excellence. At times, however, it is rough, 
to no purpose; as at page 44: 

And ever tended to some central point 
Xo 8ome pket — oought more eouU 1 tsaderstaotL 

60 



R. H. Home 



And here, at page 8z : 

Tlie shadow of a stag stoops to the stream, 
5w£ft foOhMg toward tbc cflteraef ancf driakt deepjf. 

The above is an unintentional and false Alexandrine, 
including a foot too much, and that a trochee in place 
of an iambus. But here, at page zo6, we have the 
utterly unjustifiable anomaly of half a foot too little : 

And Eo§ evtr riaeg, dreMng 

The varied regions of mankind, etc 

All these are mere inadvertences, of course ; for the 
general handling of the rhjrthm shows the profound 
metrical sense of the poet. He is, perhaps, somewhat 
too fond of '* making the sound an echo to the sense.** 
Orhn embodies some of the most remarkable in- 
stances of this on record; but if smoothness, if the 
true rhythm of a verse be sacrificed, the sacrifice is an 
error. The effect is only a beauty, we think, where 
no sacrifice is made in its behalf. It will be found 
possible to reconcile all the objects in view. Nothing 
can justify such lines as this, at page 69: 

As snake-songs 'midst stone hollows thus has taught me. 

We mi^^t urge, as another minor objection, that all 
flie giants are made to speak in the same manner, 
with the same phraseology. Their characters are 
broadly distinctive, while their words are identical in 
spirit. There is sufficient individuality of sentiment, 
but little, or none, of language. 

61 



R. H. Home 



We must object, too, to tbt penonal and political 
allusioiis, to the Corn-Law question, for example, to 
Wellington's statute, etc These things, of course, 
have no business in a poenou 

We will conclude our fault-finding with the remark 
that, as a consequence of the one radical error of con- 
ception upon which we have commented at length, 
the reader's attention, throughout, is painfully diverted. 
He is always pausing, amid poetical beauties, in the 
expectation of detecting among them some philo- 
sophical, allegorical moral. Of course, he does not 
fully, because he cannot uniquely, appreciate the 
beauties. The absolute necessity of reperusing the 
poem, in order thoroughly to comprehend it, is also, 
most surely, to be regretted, and arises, likewise, from 
the one radical sin. 

But of the beauties of this most remarkable poem, 
what shall we say ? And here we find it a difficult 
task to be calm. And yet we have never been accused 
of enthusiastic encomium. It is our deliberate opinion 
that, in all that regards the loftiest and holiest attri- 
butes of the true poetry, QHon has never been excelled. 
Indeed, we feel strongly inclined to say that it has 
never been equalled. Its imagination — that quality 
which is all in all — ^is of the most refined, the most 
elevating, the most august character. And here we 
deeply regret that the necessary limits of this review 
will prevent us from entering, at length, into spedfi- 

6a 



R. H. Home 



cation. In reading the poem, we marlced passage 
after passage for extract; but, in the end, we found 
that we had marked nearly every passage in the book. 
We can now do nothing more than select a few. This, 
from page 3, introduces Orion himself, and we quote 
it, not only as an instance of refined and picturesque 
imagination, but as evincing the high artistical skill 
with which a scholar in spirit can paint an elaborate 
jdcture by a few brief touches. 

The scene hi front two sloping mountains' sides 
Displayed; in shadow one and one in light. 
The loftiest on its summit now sustained 
The sonbeamSy raying like a mighty wheel 
Half seen, which left the forward soxface dark 
in its full breadth of shade; the coming sun 
ffidden as yet behind; the other mount. 
Slanting transverse, swept with an eastward face. 
Catching the golden light Now while the peal 
Of the ascending chase told that the rout 
Still midway rent the thickets, suddenly 
Along the broad and sunny slope appeared 
Tbe tbadow of a BtMg that Bed aerou 
Followed by a gfanffa abadow wHh a wpeatt 

These shadows are those of the coming Orion and 
his game. But who can fail to appreciate the intense 
beauty of the heralding shadows? Nor is this alL 
This "Hunter of shadows, he himself a shade," is 
made symbolical, or suggestive, throughout the poem, 
of flie speculative character of Orion ; and, occasionally, 

63 



R. H. Home 



of his ptUBuit of visionary happiness. For example, 
at page Sz, Orion, possessed of Merope, dwells with 
her in a remote and dense grove of cedars. Instead of 
directly describing his attained happiness, his perfected 
bliss, the poet, with an exalted sense of art for which 
we look utterly in vain in any other poem, merely 
introduces the image of the tamed or subdued shadow- 
stag, quietly browsing and drinking beneath the cedars. 

There, tmdemeath the boughs, mark where the ^am 

Of sunrise thro' the roofing's chasm is thrown 

Upon a grassy plot below, whereon 

The shadow of a stag stoops to the stream. 

Swift rolling toward the cataract, and drinks. 

Throughout the day unceaang^y it drinks, 

While ever and anon the nightingale, 

Not waiting for the evening, swells his hymn. 

His one sustained and heaven-aspiring tone. 

And when the sun had vanished utterly. 

Arm over arm the cedars spread their shade. 

With arching wrist and long extended hands, 

And grave-ward fingers lengthenixig in the moon. 

Above that shadowy stag whose antlers still 

Hung o'er the stream. 

There is nothing more richly, more weirdly, more 
chastely, more sublimely imaginative in the wide 
realm of poetical literature. It will be seen that we 
have enthusiasm, but we reserve it for pictures such 
as this. 

At page 6a, Orion, his brother dead, is engaged 

64 



R. Urn Home 



alone in extirpating the beasts from Chios. In 
the passages we quote, observei in the beginning, the 
angular luddness of detail; the arrangement of the 
barrieis, etc., by which the hunter accomplishes his 
purpose, is given in a dozen lines of verse, with far 
more perspicuity than ordinary writers could give it 
in as many pages of prose. In this species of narra- 
tion Mr. Home is approached only by Moore in his 
AkipbroiL Inthelatterportionsof our extract observe 
the vivid picturesqueness of the description. 

Four dajB remain. Fresh trees he felled and wove 

More barriers and fences; inaccessible 

To fiercest charge of droves, and to o'erleap 

Impossible. These walls he so arranged 

That to a common centre each should force 

The fight of those pursued; and from that centre 

Diverged three outlets. One, the wide expanse 

Which from the rocks and inland forests led; 

One was the clear-skyed windy gap above 

A precipice; the third, a long ravine 

Which through steep slopes, down to the seashore ran 

Winding, and then direct into the sea. 

Two days remain. Orion, in each hand 
Waving a torch, his course at night began, 
Through wildest haunts and lairs of savage beasts. 
With long-drawn howl, before him trooped the wolves, 
The panthers, terror-stricken, and the bears 
"^th wonder and gruff rage; from desolate crags, 
Leering hyenas, griffin, hippogrif , 
Skulked, or sprang madly, as the tosdng brands 

▼OL. Tni.--5. ^m 



R. H. Home 



FlABhed through the midnight nooks and hollows cold, 

Sudden as fire from flint; o'er crashing thickets, 

WiA cfouebcd bead Bad eurkd hogB daabtd the wOd boat, 

Gnashing forth on with reckless impulses. 

While the dear-purposed f oz crept closely down 

Into the underwood, to let the storm. 

Whatever its cause, pass over. Through dark fens, 

Marshes, green rushy swamps, and margins reedy, 

CMon held his way, and rolling shapes 

Of serpent and of dragon moved before him 

W%6 blgbffeMftd ereatB, Mwaa^bke ytt terrible, 

Aofd oken hokiag beck wHb gea^Mke eye90 

All night Orion urged his rapid course 

In the vexed rear of the swift-droving din. 

And when the dawn had peered, the monsters all 

Were hemmed in barriers. These he now o'erieaped 

With fuel through the day, and when again 

IQght darkened, and the sea a gulf-liice voice 

Sent forth, the barriers at all points he fired, 

Vid prayers to HephsBstos and his Ocean-Sire. 

Soon as the flames had eaten out a gap 

In the great barrier fronting the ravine 

That ran down to the sea, Orion grasped 

Two blazing boughs; one high in air he raised, 

The other, whb He roeriag foliage trailed 

Bebind bim aa be aped Onward the droves 

Of frantic creatures with one impulse rolled 

Before this night-devouring thing of flames. 

With multitudinous voice and downward sweep 

Into the sea, which now flrst knew a tide. 

And, ere they made one effort to regain 

The shore, had caught them in its flowing arms, 

66 



R. H. Home 



And bore them past all hope. The living nuuSy 
Bark heaving o'er the waves redstlesBly, 
At length, in distance, seemed a circle small, 
HBdgf wbkb one ere&htre In die centre roee, 
Con^ieuous in ibe hng, red quiwering gkeme 
Tbet hrom the dying brande etreemed o'er the wewee* 
h wee die ddeei dregon oi due iene, 
WiMoee hrlty Beg^winge end tion^creeted bead 
O^er erege end marebee regtd eway bed beJdf 
And now be roee up Obe an embodied euree, 
From att die doom ed ^ hat ainbing — aome fuat aunb — 
Looked landward o'er ibe aea, and Mapped bia rana, 
Unw Poaeidon drew tbem awirUng downt 

Poseidon (Neptune) is Orion's father, and lends him 
his aid. The first line italicized is an example of 
sound made echo to sense. The rest we have merely 
emphasized as peculiarly imaginative. 

At page 9y Orion thus describes a palace built by 
him for Hepluestos (Vulcan) : 

But, ere a shadow-hunter I became, 
A dreamer of strange dreams by day and night, 
For him I built a palace underground. 
Of iron, black and rough as his own hands. 
Deep in the groaning disembowelled earth. 
The tower-broad pillars and huge stanchions, 
And slant supporting wedges I set up. 
Aided by the Cyclops who obeyed my voice, 
Wldeb duougb die metat hbHe rang andpeakd 
In ordera eebeing tart Uke diUMnder^dreama, 
With arches, galleries, and domes all carved — 
So diet great Mgurea atarted horn die roof 

67 



R. H. Home 



On tbo&e who wfood below Bad gned ahowt — 
I filled it; in the centre framed a haU; 
Central in that, a throne; aaJ ht die Hgfi^ 
Forged adgftty baaunen tbat ebouU the end hO 
On eknted toeke oi gmdle end^iMo^ 
wentd hy e totfeoif §ot wboee peeeege dowtk 
A ebeem Ibewed, Aad here the God could tettf 
'hBdet ebowetf tpetke end eweAee oi bfoed goM &e, 
Hie lone tepoee, lulled by die eounde be lowed f 
Or, ceedng beck die beauner^beede HO d»ey choked 
Tbe weier'e couree, et^oy, Ueo be wkbtedf 
NUdnigbt tremendoue, eOenee, end iron ek^ 

The description of the hell in Paradise Lost is alto- 
gether inferior in graphic effect, in originalityi in ex- 
pression, in the true imaginatioii, to these magnificent 
— ^to these unparalleled passages. For this assertion 
there are tens of thousands who will condemn us as 
heretical; but there are a ** chosen few'* who will 
feel, in their inmost souls, the dmple truth of the 
assertion. The former class would at least be silent, 
could they form even a remote conception of that con- 
tempt with ^^ch we hearken to their conventional 
jargon. 

We have room for no further extracts of length; 
but we refer the reader who shall be so fortunate as 
to procure a copy of OrioOf to a passage at page 22^ 
commencing. 

One day at noontide, irhfaaL the chaae wae done. 

68 



R. H. Home 



It 18 descriptive of a group of lolling hounds, inter- 
mingled with sylvans, &un8, nymphs, and oceanides* 
We refer him also to page 25, where Orion, enamored 
of the naked beauty of Artemis, is repulsed and frozen 
hy her dignity. These lines end thus: 

And ere the last collected shape he saw 
Of Artemis, dispersiiig fast amid 
Dense vapory douds, the aching wintriness 
Had risen to his teeth, and fixed his eyes, 
Like git«»i»ning stones in the congealing air. 

We refer, especially, too, to the description of love, 
Mt page 29; to that of a Bacchanalian orgy, at page 
34; to that of drought succeeded by rain, at page 
70; and to that of the palace of Eos, at page 104. 

Mr. Home has a very peculiar and very delightful 
faculty of enforcing, or giving vitality to a picture, by 
some one vivid and intensely characteristic point or 
touch. He seizes the most salient feature of his 
theme, and makes this feature convey the whole. 
The comUned nsUreii and picturesqueness of some 
of the passages thus enforced cannot be sufficiently 
admired. For example : 

The archers soon 
W%6 baw^arm forward tbrus^ on aU sides twanged 
Around, above, below. 

How, it is this thrusting forward of the bow-arm 
which is the idiosyncrasy of the action of a mass of 
archers. Again : Shezergon and his friends endeavor 

69 



R. H. Home 



to persuade Akinetos to be king. Observe the silent 
refusal of Akinetos — ^the peculiar passiveness of his 
action — if we may be permitted the paradox: 

** Rise, therefore, Akinetos, thou art Idngl " 
So saying, in his hand he placed a spear. 
Am though 9gala»t a waZf 't were eet adboC 
Phdjr Uie hag apeet hn t^on die ground 

Here again, Merope departs from Chios in a ship: 

And, as it sped along, she dosely pressed 

The rich globes of her bosom on the side 

O'er which she bent with those black eyes, and gazed 

Into the sea dmt Bed beaeeth her hee. 

The fleeing of the sea beneath the face of one who 
gazes into it from a sliip's side, is the idios3rncrasy of 
the action— of the subject It is that which chiefly 
impresses the gazer. 

We conclude with some brief quotations at random, 
which we shall not pause to classify. Their merits 
need no demonstration. They gleam with the purest 
imagination. They abound in picturesqueness, force, 
happily chosen epithets, each in itself a picture. 
They are redolent of all for which a poet will value a 
poem: 

Her sliver sandals glanced i' the rays. 
As doth a lizard playing on the hiU, 
And on the spot where she that instant stood 
Hanght but the bent and quivering grass was seen. 

70 



R. H. Home 



Above the Isle of ChioSy night by nighty 

The dear moon lingered ever on her conne 

Covering the forest foliage, where it swept 

In its unbroken breadth along the slopes, 

With placid silver; edging leaf and trunk 

Where gloom dung deep around; but diiefly sought 

Whb mtthnchafy Bphndor to ittuae 

The duA^moudied eawemM wbett Orhtk hjr, 

Dremadng mnoDg hU kbiMmuL 

The ocean realm bdow, and all its caves 
And bristling vegetation, plant, and flower, 
And forests in their dense petrific shade, 
Wbare the tUe» moan §ot akep dut nertr comes* 

A faun, who on a quiet green knoll sat 
Somewhat apart, sang a mdodious ode, 
3bde rich by banooakt ofhMeM stHng»0 

Antarces sdzed a satyr, with intent, 
Despite his writhing freaks and furious face, 
To dash him on a gong, like that amidst 
The struggling mass Encolyon thrust a pine, 
Heavy and black as Charon's ferrying pole. 
O'er which they, ittr a bunting bOhw, f dL 

Then round the blaze, 
Their Miu4owB bnnditldng Mhr and adtwart 
Over the levd space and up the hills. 
Six giants hdd portentous dance. 

Ss safe return 
To corporal sense, by diaking off these nets 
Of moonbeams from his souL 

Old memories 
S hu nhro u dy hung above the purple line 

71 



R. H* Home 



Of diftasoe, to the esst, while odorovflly 
OB e tw ie d the tecrHlxops of a new-^ftUen ihower. 

Singoiil 
flfal^ oOf i^rest fwnipeetl in tiie daihnesB siiii^l 
Thy mednww is a music that hriogs calm 
Into my central soul; and from its waves. 
That now with joy begin to heave and gosh. 
The homing image of all life's desire, 
Like an absarUng, fire-fareathedy phantom god, 
SIses and floatsi here touching on the foam. 
There hovering o'er it; afcendUiv m^ 
Sitfwttd^ wtn 8W€tpiog dowtk w€ aeoutphtut 

How a sound we heard. 
Like to some well-known voice in prayer; and next 
An iron dang, dmtweemed to break gnat boadt 
Bentatb fbe eartb, shook us to conscious life. 

It is OUivionl In his hand — ^though naught 
Knows he of this — a dusky purple flower 
Droops over its tall stem. Againl ah seel 
He wanders into mist and now is loetl 
Within his brain what lovely realms of death 
Are pictured, ao^ wbatkaowkdge duougb fbe doon 
Oibk hrgethdatM ofaB tbe eartb 
A patb taay gain f 

But we are positively forced to conclude. It was 
our dedgn to give Orion a careful and methodical 
analysia, thus to bring clearly forth its multitudinous 
beauties to the eye of the American public. Our 
limits have constrained us to treat it in an imperfect 

72 



R. H. Home 



and ctinoiy maimer. We have had to content ooi^ 
sdves chiefly with assertion, where our original pur- 
pose was to demonstrate. We have left unsaid a 
hundred things which a well-grounded enthusiasm 
would have prompted os to say. One thing, however, 
we must and will say, in conclusion : Orion will be 
admitted, by every man of genina, to be one of the 
noblest, if not the very noUest, poetical work of the 
age. Its defects are trivial and conventional, its 
beauties intrindc and supreme. 



Amelia Welby 



SrSORS. AKELIA WELBT has neariy all tiu im- 
iK 1 agination of Maria del Ocddente, with a 
*^^ mora refined taste; and neariy all the 
pasrion of Hrs. Norton, irith a nicer ear, and (irtiat is 
Burprisingd equal art. Very few American poets are 
at all comparable with hv: in the true poetic qualities. 
As for our poetesses (an absurd but necessary word), 
few of than approach her. 

With some modifications, this htde poem would do 
honor to any one living or dead : 

The moon witUn onr CMement beuiu, 

Our blne-ejed babe hath dropped to ile^ 
And I have left U to its drewoi 

AmU the ihadovi deep, 
To mnae bedde the diver tide 
Vhoae wares are rippling at thy ride. 
It ia a etui and lovely spot 

Where they have Udd thee down to mt; 
The white roee and forget-me-not 

Bloom iweetly on thy breast, 
74 



Amelia Welby 

And turds and streams with liquid lull 
Have made the stillness beautifuL 

And softly thro' the forest hais 
Light lovely shapes, on glossy plumes, 

Float ever in, like wingM stars, 
Amid the purpling glooms; 

Their sweet songs, borne from tree to tree, 

Thrill the Ught leaves with melody. 

Alasl the very path I trace. 

In happier hours thy footsteps made; 
This spot was once thy resting-place ; 

'^thin the silent shade 
Thy white hand trained the fragrant bough 
That drops its blossoms o'er me now. 

'T was here at eve we used to rove; 

'T was here I breathed my vdiispered vows, 
And sealed them on thy lips, my love. 

Beneath the apple-boughs. 
Our hearts had melted into one. 
But Death undid what Love had done. 

Alasl too deep a weight of thought 
Had filled thy heart in youth's sweet hour,- 

It seemed with love and bliss o'erfraught; 
As fleeting passion-flower 

Unfolding, neath a southern sky, 

To blossom soon and soon to die. 

Tet in these calm and blooming bowers, 

I seem to see thee still. 
Thy breath seems floating o'er the flowers. 

Thy wfaiq»er on the hill; 

75 



Amelia Welby 

The dear faint etarUght and the sea 
Are whispering to my heart of thee. 

Ho more thy smiles my heart rejoioe, 

Tet still I start to meet thine eye, 
And call upon the low sweet voloe 

That gives me no reply. 
And list within my silent door 
For the light feet that come no more. 

In a critical mood I would speak of these stanzas 
thus: — ^The subject was nothing of originality: a wid- 
ower muses by the grave of his wife. Here then 
is a great demerit; for originality of theme, if not 
absolutely first sought, should be souglit among the 
first Nothing is more dear than this proposition; 
although denied by the chlorine critics (the grass- 
green). The desire of the new is an element of the 
souL The most exquisite pleasures grow dull in 
repetition. A strain of music enchants. Heard a 
second time it pleases. Heard a tenth, it does not 
displease. We hear it a twentieth, and ask ouiselyes 
why we admired. At the fiftieth it induces ennui, at 
the hundredth, disgust 

Mrs. Wdby's theme is, therefore, radically faulty 
so far as originality is concerned; but of common 
themes, it is one of the very best among the dass 
pa99ionate0 True pasdon is prosaic, homdy. Any 
strong mental emotion stimulates all the mental 
faculties; thus grief the imagination; but in pro* 

76 



Amelia Welby 

portion as the effect is strengthened, the cause sur- 
ceases. The excited fancy triumphs; the grief is 
subdued, chastened, is no longer grief. In this mood 
we are poetic, and it is dear that a poem now written 
will be poetic in the exact ratio of its dispasmon. A 
passionate poem is a contradiction in terms. When 
I say, then, that Mrs. Wdby's stanzas are good among 
the class paMtionate (using the term commonly and 
falsdy applied), I mean that her tone is properly sub- 
dued, and is not so much the tone of passion as of a 
gentie and melancholy regret, interwoven with a pleas- 
ant sense of the natural loveliness surrounding the 
lost in the tomb, and a memory of her htmian beauty 
while alive. Elegiac poems diould either assume 
this character, or dwell purely on the beauty (moral 
or physical) of the departed; or, better still, utter 
the notes of triumph. I have endeavored to carry 
out this latter idea in some verses which I have called 

Lenore^ 

Those who object to the proposition that poetry 
and passion are discordant, would cite Mrs. Wdby's 
poem as an instance of a passionate one. It is pre- 
dsdy similar to the hundred others which have been 
dted for like purpose. But it is not pasdonate ; and 
for this reason (with others having regard to her fine 
genius) it is poetical. The critics upon this topic dis- 
play an amusing fgncrath eleoebi. 

Dismissing originality and tone, I pass to the general 

77 



Amelia Welby 

handling, than which nothing could be more pure, 
more natural, or more judicious. The perfect keep- 
ing of the various points is admirable, and the result 
is entire unity of impression, or effect The time, a 
moonlight night ; the locality of the grave ; the pass- 
ing thither from the cottage, and the conclusion of 
the theme with the return to ** the silent door " ; the 
babe left, meanwhile, ** to its dreams '' ; the ** white 
rose and forget-me-not '' upon the breast of the en- 
tombed ; the ** birds and streams, with liquid lull, 
that makes the stillness beautiful " ; the birds whose 
songs '' thrill the light leaves with melody," — all these 
are appropriate and lovely conceptions, only quite un- 
original; and (be it observed) the higher order of 
genius should, and will, combine the original with 
that which is natural, not in the vulgar sense (or- 

■ 

dinary), but in the artistic sense, which has reference 
to the general intention of Nature. We have this 
combination well effected in the 



And softly through the forest ban 
Light lovely shapes, on glossy plumes, 

Float ever in, like wingM stars, 
Andd the purpling glooms, 

which are, unquestionably, the finest in the poem. 

The reflections suggested by the scene, commen- 
cing, 

Alasl the very path I trace, 
78 



Amelia Welby 

aiei also, something more than merely natural, and 
are richly ideal; especially the cause assigned for the 
early death, and '' the fragrant bough '' 

That drops its Uossoms o'er me now. 

The two concluding stanzas are remarkable ex- 
amples of common fancies rejuvenated, and ethereal- 
ized by grace of expression and melody of rhythm. 

The '* light lovely shapes '* in the third stanza (how- 
ever beautiful in themselves) are defective, when 
viewed in reference to the ** birds " of the stanza 
preceding. The topic '* birds " is dismissed in the 
one paragraph to be resumed in the other. 

^ Drops,'* in the last line of the fourth stanza, is 
improperly used in an active sense. ** To drop " is a 
neuter verb. An apple drops ; we let the apple f alL 

The repetition (*' seemed," ** seem,'' '* seems ") in 
the sixth and seventh stanzas is ungraceful; so also 
that of ** heart," in the last line of the seventh and 
the first of the eighth. The words ** breathed " and 
« ^rtiispered," in the second line of the fifth stanza, 
have a force too nearly identicaL ** 'Neath," just 
below, is an awkward contraction. All contrac- 
tions are awkward. It is no paradox, tfaiat the more 
prosaic the construction of verse the better. In- 
versions should be dismissed. The most forcible lines 
are the most direct Mrs. Welby owes three fourths 
of her power (so far as style is concerned) to her 

79 



Amelia Welby 

freedom from these vulgar and particislaiiy Bngliah 
erroie, eUmon and inyeision. ''O'er " iS| however, too 
often need by her in place of '' over/' and '' *t was " 
for 'Mt was." We see instances here. The only 
inversions, strictly speaking, are 

The moon within our casement beams» 

and 

Amid the shedowi deep. 

The versification throughout is unusually good. 
Nothing can excel 

And birds and streams with liquid lull 
Have made the stillness beautiful 



• . 



And sealed them on thy lips, my love, 
Beneath the apple boughs . . 



or the whole of the concluding stanza, if we leave out 
of view the unpleasant repetition of '' And " at the 
commencement of the third and fifth lines. "Thy 
white hand trained '* (see stanza the fourth) involves 
four consonants, that unite with difficulty — ndtr — 
and the harshness is rendered more apparent by the 
employment of the spondee, '' hand trained,** in place 
of an iambus. " Melody ** is a feeble termination of 
the third stanza*s last line. The syllable " dy ** is not 
full enougli to sustain the rhyme. All these endings, 
liber(y> property, happi/y, and the like, however justi- 
fied by authority, are grossly objectionable. Upon 

80 



Amelia Welby 

the whole, then are Bome poets in America (Bryant 
and Sprague, for example) who equal Mrs. Welby In 
the negative merits of that limited versiflcatlon which 
they chiefly affect, the iamUc pentameter; but none 
equal her in the richer and positive merits of rhyth- 
mical variety, c<mceptioo, invention. They, in the 
(dd routine, rarely err. She often suipiises, and 
always delights, by novel, rich, and accurate comtnna- 
tion of the ancient mudcal expressions. 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett" 



**fr771 WELL-BRED man,' says fflr James 
jmK Pockle, in his Gtsy Cap for a Green 
^^ Head, "wiU never give himself the 
liberty to speak ill of women.** We emphadze fba 
** man." Setting aside, for the present, certain rare 
commentators and compilers of the species, creatures 
neither precisely nun, women, nor Mary WoUstone- 
cnifts, — setting these aside as imclasdfiable, we may 
observe that the race of critics are masculine — men. 
With the exception, perhaps, of Mrs. Anne Royal, we 
can call to mind no female vrbo has occupied, even 
temporarily, the Zoilus Hirone. And this, the Salic 
law, is an evil ; for the inherent cbiTalry of the critical 
man renders it not only an unpleasant task to him 
** to speak ill of a woman " (and a woman and her 
book are identical), bnt an almost impossible task not 
to laud her att aaaaeam. In general, therefore, it is 

'TkeOHUafOOt, Mf OttvAcHb By Blxabcth Bamtt Buntt, nthor 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



the unhappy lot of the authoress to be subjected, 
time after time, to the downright degradation of mere 
puffery. On her own side of the AtlantiCi Hiss Bar- 
rett has indeed, in one instance at least, escaped the 
infliction of this lamentable contumely and wrong; 
but if she had been really solicitous of its infliction 
in America, she could not have adopted a more effec- 
tual plan than that of saying a few words about 
** the great American people,'* in an American edition 
of her work, published under the superintendence of 
an American author.' Of the innumerable ** native " 
notices of the Drama ofEsdle, which have come under 
our observation, we can call to mind not one in which 
there is anything more remarkable than the critic's 
dogged determination to And nothing barren, from 
Beersheba to Dan. Another, in the Democratic Re^ 
ritw, has proceeded so far, it is true, as to venture 
a very deUcate insinuation to the effect that the 
poetess '* will not fail to speak her mind, though it 
bring upon her a bad rhyme **; beyond this, nobody 
has proceeded: and as for the elaborate paper in the 
new Wbdg Monthly, all that anybody can say or think, 

' We an lorry to notice, in the Aineriain edttioot ft uraUltade ol typofnphl- 
cal efrora* meny of which effect the eenie, ftiid ehovld therefore be corrected 
in ft eecond impreerion, if called for. How fsr they ere chargeftUe to the 
London copy we are not prepared to My. " Ftroxet** for instance. Is printed 
*' frore.** " Foregone," throughout Is printed " forgone "; " WocdiMB ** la 
printed " worldleee " ; <* woridly," " wordly •' ; " apUt,** *' eplt,** etc, etc., while 
tranepoeltione, falee accents, and mispunctuationa abound. We indicate a 
few pages on which such inadvertences are to be discovered: toL i.: 23, a6, 
17. 45f S3f S6, 80, 166, 174* xSo, zSSt asz ; ToL iL : zoo» xx4f ^40, a47> a53* 

«3 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



and all that Miss Barrett can feel respecting it is, that 
it is an eulogy as well written as it is an insult well 
intended. Now of all the friends of the fair author, 
we doubt whether one exists with more profound, 
with more enthusiastic, reverence and admiration of 
her genius, than the writer of these words. And it is 
for this very reason, beyond all others, that he intends 
to speak of her the truth. Our chief regret is, never- 
theless, that the limits of this work will preclude the 
possibility of our speaking this truth so fully, and so 
much in detail as we could wish. By far the most 
valuable criticism that we, or that any one could give, 
of the volumes now lying before us, would be the 
quotation of three fourths of their contents. But we 
have this advantage, that the work has been long 
published, and almost universally read, and thus, in 
some measure, we may proceed, concisely, as if the 
text of our cpntext were an understood thing. 

In her preface to this, the '^ American Edition '* of 
her late poems, Hiss Barrett, speaking of the Drama 
of Elite, says: '*I decided on publishing it, after 
considerable hesitation and doubt Its subject rather 
fastened on me than was chosen; and the form, ap- 
proaching the model of the Greek tragedy, shaped 
itself under my hand rather by force of pleasure than 
of design. But when the compositional excitement 
had subsided, I felt afraid of my position. My own 
object was the new and strange experience of the 

34 



r 



Elizabeth Barrett Browning. . ^ , 

From a painting in the Natioaal Portrait Gatoon UcmJOn. 






« 



-: if T^ 



■n • •: 



i . 



t, .. T 



I • 
I 



• ■ 



: .: '- \ ^'' ■^' ^ 






■ ■':. i«- 



: -I' k\ ' 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



fallen Humanity, as it went forth from Paradise in 
the Wilderness, with a peculiar reference to Eve's 
allotted grief, which, considering that self-sacrifice be- 
longed to her womanhood, and the consciousness of 
being the organ of the Fall to her offence, appeared to 
me imperfectly apprehended hitherto, and more ex- 
pressible by a woman than by a man.'* In this abstract 
announcement of the theme, it is difiicult to under- 
stand the ground of the poet's hesitation to publish; 
for the theme in itself seems admirably adapted to the 
purposes of the closest drama. The poet, neverthe- 
less, is very properly conscious of failure, a failure 
which occurs not in the general, but in the particular 
conception, and which must be placed to the account 
of ** the model of the Greek tragedies." The Greek 
tragedies had and even have high merits ; but we act 
wisely in now substituting for the external and typified 
human sympathy of the antique Chorus a direct, in- 
ternal, living, and moving sympathy itself; and 
although fschylus might have done service as *' a 
model" to either Euripides or Sophocles, yet, were 
Sophocles and Euripides in London to-day, they would 
perhaps, while granting a certain formless and shadowy 
grandeur, indulge a quiet smile at the shallowness and 
uncouthness of that art which, in the old amphi- 
theatres, had beguiled them into applause of the 

Oedipus at Colonos* 
It would have been better for Miss Barrett, if, 

8S 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



throwing herself independently upon her own very 
extraordinary resources, and forgetting that a Greek 
had ever lived, she had involved her Eve in a series 
of adventures merely natural, or, if not this, of adven- 
tures preternatural within the limits of at least a con- 
ceivable relation, a relation of matter to spirit and 
spirit to matter, that should have left room for some- 
thing like palpable action and comprehensiUe emo- 
tion, that should not have utterly precluded the 
development of that womanly character which is ad- 
mitted as the principal object of the poem. As the case 
actually stands, it is only in a few snatches of verbal 
intercommunication with Adam and Lucifer that we 
behold her as a woman at all. For the rest, she is a 
mystical something or nothing, enwrapped in a fog of 
rhapsody about the Transfiguration, and the Seed, 
and the Bruising of the Heel, and other talk of a 
nature that no man ever pretended to understand in 
plain prose, and which, when solar-microscoped into 
poetry ** upon the model of the Greek drama," is about 
as convincing as the Egyptian Lectures of Mr. Silk 
Buckingham, about as much to any purpose under 
the sun as the li/ presto I conjurations of Signor Blitz. 
What are we to make, for example, of dramatic collo- 
quy such as this ? — ^the words are those of a Chorus 
of Invisible Angels addressing Adam: 

Live, work on, Earthy! 
By the Actual's tuuion, 

86 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



Speed the arrow worthy 

Of a pure aacenaonl 
From the low earth round you 

Reach the heights above you: 
From the stripes that wound you 

Seek the loves that love youl 
God's divinest bumeth plain 
Through the crystal diaphane 

Of our loves that love you. 

Now we do not mean to assert that, by ezcessiye 
** tension " of the intellect, a reader accustomed to the 
cant of the transcendentalists (or of those who degrade 
an ennobling philosophy by styling themselves such) 
may not succeed in ferreting from the passage quoted, 
and indeed from each of the thousand similar ones 
throughout the book, something that shall bear the 
aq>ect of an absolute idea; but we do mean to say, 
first, that4a nine cases out of ten, the thought when 
dug out will be found very poorly to repay the labor of 
the discing; for it is the nature of thought in general, 
as it is the nature of some ores in particular, to be 
richest when most superficial. And we do mean to 
say, secondly, that in nineteen cases out of twenty, 
the reader will suffer the most valuable ore to remain 
unmined to all eternity before he will be put to the 
trouble of digging for it one inch. And we do mean 
to assert, thirdly, that no reader is to be condemned 
for not putting himself to the trouble of digging even 
the one inch; for no writer has the right to impose 

87 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



any guch necessity upon him. What is worth think- 
ing is distinctly thought; what is distinctly thought 
can, and should be, distinctly ezpressedi or should not 
be expressed at alL Nevertheless, there is no more 
appropriate opportunity than the present for admitting 
and maintaining at once, what has never before been 
either maintained or admitted, that there is a justifiable 
exception to the rule for which we contend. It is 
where the design is to convey the fantastic, not the 
obscure. To give the idea of the latter we need, as 
in general, the most precise and definite terms, and 
those who employ other terms but confound obscurity 
of expression with the expression of obscurity. The 
fantastic in itself, however, — phantasm, — ^may be ma- 
terially furthered in its development by the quaint in 
phraseology, a proposition which any moralist may 
examine at his leisure for himself. 

The Drama of Bdle opens with a very palpable 
bull: << Scene, the outer side of the gate of Eden, 
shut fast with clouds [a scene out of sight!] from the 
depth of which revolves the sword of fire, self-moved. 
A watch of innumerable angeis, rank above rank, 
slopes up from around it to the zenith; and the glare 
cast from their brightness and from the sword, extends 
many miles into the wilderness. Adam and Eve are 
seen in the distance, fiying along the glare. The 
angel Gabriel and Lucifer are beside the gate.'* These 
are the '^ stage directions " which greet us on the 

88 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



threshold of the book. We complain first of the buU; 
secondlyi of the blue-fire melodramatic aspect of the 
revotving sword; thirdly, of the duplicate nature of 
the sword, which, if steel, and sufficiently inflamed to 
do service in burning, would, perhaps, have been in 
no temper to cut ; and on the other hand, if sufficiently 
cool to have an edge, would have accomplished little 
in the way of scorching a personage so well accus- 
tomed to fire and brimstone, and all that, as we have 
very good reason to believe Lucifer was. We cannot 
help objecting, too, to the '^ innumerable angels," as a 
force altogether disproportioned to the one enemy to 
be kept out; either the self-moving sword itself, we 
think, or the angel Gabriel alone, or five or six of the 
** innumerable '* angels, would have sufficed to keep the 
Devil (or is it Adam ?) outside of the gate, which, 
after all, he migjit not have been able to discover on 
account of the clouds. 

Far be it from us, however, to dwell irreverently on 
matters which have venerabiUty in the faith or in the 
fancy of Hiss Barrett. We allude to these niaiserieB 
at all, found here in the very first paragraph of her 
poem, simply by way of putting in the clearest light 
the mass of inconsistency and antagonism in which 
her subject has inextricably involved her. She has 
made allusion to Milton, and no doubt felt secure in 
her theme (as a theme merely) when she considered 
his Pandise Lost But even in Milton's own day, 

«9 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



when men had the haUt of believing all things, the 
more nonsensical the mom readilji and of worshipping 
in blind acquiescence the most preposterous of im- 
possibilities — even then there were not wanting indi- 
viduals who would have read the great ejdc with more 
zest, could it have been explained to their satisfaction 
how and why it was, not only that a snake quoted 
Aristotle's ethics, and behaved otherwise pretty much 
as he pleased, but that bloody battles were continually 
being fought between bloodless *^ innumerable angels,'* 
that found no inconvenience in losing a wing one 
minute and a head the next, and, if pounded up into 
puff-paste late in the afternoon, were as good *^ in- 
numerable angels ** as new the next morning, in time 
to be at riyeiUe roll-call. And now, at the present 
epoch, there are few people who do not occasionally 
think. This is emphatically the thinking age; indeed 
it may very well be questioned whether mankind ever 
substantially thought before. The fact is, if the Para^ 
disc Lost were written to-day (assuming that it had 
never been written when it was), not even its eminent, 
although overestimated merits would counterbalance, 
either in the public view or in the opinion of any 
critic at once intelligent and honest, the multitudinous 
incongruities which are part and parcel of its plot 

But in the plot of the drama of Hiss Barrett it is 
something even worse than incongruity which affronts, 
— ^a continuous mystical strain of ill-fitting and ex- 

90 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



•ggerated allegory if, indeed, allegory is not much 
too respectable a term for it. We are called upon, for 
example, to sympatiiize in the whimsical woes of two 
spirits, who, upspringing from the bowels of the earth, 
set immediately to bewailing their miseries in jargon 
such as this: 

I am the spirit of the harmless earth. 

God spake me softly out among the staxs, 
As softly as a Uesaiiig of much worth; 

And then his smile did follow unawares, 
That aU things fashioned so for use and duty 
Might shine anointed with his chrism of beauty — 

Tetlwaill 
I draye on with the worlds exultingly, 

Obliquely down the Godlight's gradual faU; 
IndiTidual aspect and complexity 

Of gyratory orb and interval 
Lost in the fluent motion of delight 
Toward the high ends of Being beyond sight — 

TetlwaUl 

Innumerable other spirits discourse successively after 
the same fashion, each ending every stanza of his 
lamentation with the ** Yet I waill " When at length 
they have f aiiiy made an end. Eve touches Adam 
upon the elbow, and hazards, also, the profound and 
pathetic observation, ** Lo, Adam, they waill " which 
is nothing more than the simple truth, for they do, 
and God deliver us from any such wailing againi 

It is not our purpose, however, to demonstrate what 

91 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



e^eiy reader of these voluines will have readily seen 
self-demonstrated — the utter indefensibility of the 
Drama of ExUe, considered uniquely as a work of 
art We have none of us to be told that a medley of 
metaphysical redtatives, sung out of tune at Adam and 
Eve by all manner of inconceivable abstractions^ is 
not exactly the best material for a poem. Still it may 
very well happen that among this material there shall 
be individual passages of great beauty. But should 
any one doubt the possibility, let him be satisfied by a 
sini^e extract such as follows: 

On a mountain peak 
Half sheathed in primal wooda and glittering 
In spasms of awful sunshine at that hour, 
A lion couched, part raised upon his paws, 
With his calm masdve face turned full on thine, 
And his mane listening. When the ended curse 
Left silence in the worid, right suddenly 
He sprang up rampant and stood straight and stiff, 
As if the new reality of death 
Were dashed against his eyes, and roared so fierce 
(Such thick camivorous passion in his throat 
Tearing a passage through the wrath and fear). 
And roared so wild, and smote from all the hills 
Such fast keen echoes crumbling down the vales 
To distant silence, — ^that the forest beasts, 
One after one, did mutter a response 
In savage and in sorrowful complaint 
Which trailed along the gorges. 

There is an Homeric force here, a vivid picturesque- 

92 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



Hess wUxh all men will appreciate and admire. It is, 
however, the longest quotaUe passage in the drama 
not disfigured with blemishes of importance, although 
there are many, very many passages of a far loftier 
order of excellence so disfigured, and which, therefore, 
it would not suit our immediate purpose to extract 
The truth is, and it may be as well mentioned at 
this point as elsewhere, that we are not to look in 
IGss Barrett's works for any examples of what has 
been occasionally termed ** sustained effort*'; for 
neither are there, in any of her poems, any long com- 
mendable paragraphs, nor are there any individual 
compositions which will bear the slightest examina- 
tion as consistent art-products. Her wild and mag- 
nificent genius seems to have contented itself with 
points, to have exhausted itself in fiashes; but it is 
the profusion, the unparalleled number and close 
propinquity of these points and fiashes which render 
her book one fiame, and justify us in calling her, un- 
hesitatingly, the greatest, the most glorious of her sex. 
The Drama of Exile calls for little more, in the way 
of comment, than what we have generally said. Its 
finest particular feature is, perhaps, the rapture of 
Bve, rapture bursting through despair, upon dis- 
covering that she still possesses, in the unwavering 
love of Adam, an undreamed-of and priceless treasure. 
The poem ends, as it commences, with a bulL The 
last sentence gives us to understand that ** there is a 

93 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



sound through the silence, as of the falling teais of 
an angeL" How there can be sound during silence, 
and how an audience are to distinguish, by such 
sound, angel teais from any other species of tears, 
it may be as well, perhaps, not too particularly to 
inquire. 

Next, in length, to the Draina is A Vision of 
Poet»0 We object to the didacticism of its design, 
which the poetess thus states: ** I have attempted to 
erpress here my view of the mission of the veritable 
poet — of the self-abnegation implied in it, of the uses 
of sorrow suffered in it, of the great work accomplished 
in it through suffering, and of the duty and glory of 
what Balzac has beautifully and truly called /a 
patience angilique da g^nie." This **view" may 
be correct, but neither its correctness nor its falsity 
has anything to do with a poem. If a thesis is to be 
demonstrated, we need prose for its demonstration. 
In this instance, so far as the allegorical instruction 
and argumentation are lost sight of, in the upper 
current, so far as the main admitted intention of the 
work is kept out of view, so far only is the work a 
poem, and so far only is the poem worth notice, or 
worthy of its author. Apart from its poetical charac- 
ter, the composition is thoughtful, vivid, epigram- 
matic, and abundant in just observation, although the 
critical opinions introduced are not always our own. 
A reviewer in Blackwood's Magazine quoting many 

94 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



of these critical portraits, takes occasion to find fault I 

with the grammar of this tristich: 

Here JEaebyiva, the women swooned 
To see 80 awful, when he frowned 
As the gods did : he standeth crowned. 

^ What on earth," says the critic, ** are we to make 
of the words * the women swooned to see so awful ' ? 
. . • The syntax will punish future commentators 
as much as some of his own corrupt choruses." In 
general we are happy to agree with this reviewer, 
whose decisions respecting the book are, upon the 
whole, so neariy coincident with ours that we hesi- 
tated, through fear of repetition, to undertake a 
critique at all, until we considered that we might say ^ 

a yeiy great deal in simply supplying his omissions; 
but he frequently errs through mere hurry, and never 
did he err more singularly than at the point now in 
question. He evidently supposes that ** awful " has 
been misused as an adverb and made referable to 
«« women." But not so ; and although the construc- 
tion of the passage is unjustifiably involute, its gram- 
mar is intact. Disentangling the construction, we 
make this evident at once. **Here JBschylus (he) 
standeth crowned (whom) the women swooned to 
see so awful, when he frowned as the gods did." 
The ^ he " is excessive, and the ** whom " is under- 
stood. Respecting the lines, 

95 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



BnripideSy with dose and mild 
Scholwrtic lips, that could be wild. 
And laugh or aob out like a child 
Right in the daases, 

the Clitic observes: ** 'Sigjit in fhe classes' throws 
our intellect completely upon its beam-ends.'' But, 
if so, the fault possibly lies in fhe crankness of the 
intellect ; for the words themselves mean merely that 
Euripides laughed or cried like a schoolboy, like a 
child right (or just) in his classes, one who had not 
yet left schooL The phrase is affected, we grant, but 
quite intelligible* A still more remarkable misappre- 
hension occurs in regard to the triplet, 

And Goethe, with that reaching eye 
Bis aoul reached out from, far and higji, 
And fell from inner entity. 



The reviewer's remarks upon this are too prepos- 
terous not to be quoted in full; we doubt if any 
commentator of equal dignity ever so egregiously 
committed himself before. ** Goethe," he says, ** is a 
perfect enigma; what does the word 'fell' mean? 
ditvoff we suppose, that is, * not to be trifled with.' 
But surely it sounds very strange, although it may 
be true enougli, to say that his * f ellness ' is occasioned 
by 'inner entity.' But perhaps the line has some 
deeper meaning which we are unable to fathom." 
Perhaps it has: and this is the criticism, the British 
criticism, the Blackwood criticism^ to which we have so 

96 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



long implicitly bowed down I As before, IDss Barrett's 
yexses are needlessly inyolved, but their meaning re- 
quires no (Bdipus. Their construction is thus intended : 
«< And Goethe, with that reaching eye from which his 
soul reached out, far and high, and (in so reaching) fell 
from inner entity.'' The plain prose is this: Goethe 
(the poet would say), in involving himself too far and 
too profoundly in external speculations, speculations 
concerning the world without him, neglected or made 
miscalculations concerning his inner entity, or being, 
— concerning the world within. This idea is involved 
in the metaphor of a person leaning from a window 
so far that finally he falls from it; the person being 
the soul, the window the eye* 

Of the twenty-eight Sonnets, which immediately 
succeed the Drama of Edlcf and which receive the 
especial commendation of Blackwoodf we have no 
very enthusiastic opinion. The best sonnet is objec- 
tionable from its extreme artificiality; and, to be ef- 
fective, this species of composition requires a minute 
management, a well-controlled dexterity of touch, 
compatible neither with Miss Barrett's deficient con- 
structiveness, nor with the fervid rush and whirl of her 
genius. Of the particular instances here given, we 
prefer The Prisoner, of which the conclusion is par- 
ticularly beautiful. In general, the themes are obtru- 
sively metaphysical or didactic. 

Tbe Romauni of the Page, an imitation of the old 

yoL. VIII.— 7. Q- 



]Slizabeth Barrett Barrett 



•Rn giiah hsUad^ IB neither very original in subject, nor 
very skilfully put together. We speak comparatively, 
of course; it is not very good — ^for Miss Barrett; and 
what we have said of this poem will apply equally 
to a very similar production, Rhyme of the Duebess 
May. Tbe Poet and the Bifdf A CbiU Asleep, Crowned 
and Wedded, Crowned and Buried, To Flusb, my Dog, 
The Fourfold Aspect, A Flower in a Letter, A Lay of 
the Early Rose, That Day, L E Va Last Question, Cata^ 
rina to Camoens, Wine of Cyprus, The Dead Pan, Sleeps 
ing and Watching, A Portrait, The Mournful Mother, 
and A Valediction, althou^ all burning with divine 
fire, manifested only in scintillations, have nothing in 
them idiosyncratic. The House of Clouds and The 
Lost Bower are superlatively lovely, and show the vast 
powers of the poet in the field best adapted to their 
legitimate display; the themes, here, could not be 
improved. The former poem is purely imaginative ; 
the latter is unobjectionably because obtrusively sug- 
gestive of a moral, and is, perhaps, upon the whole, 
the most admirable composition in the two volumes, 
or, if it is not, then The Lay of the Brown Rosary is. 
In this last the ballad-character is elevated, ethereal- 
ized, and thus made to afford scope for an ideality at 
once the richest and most vigorous in the world. The 
peculiar foibles of the author are here, too, dropped 
bodily, as a mantle, in the tumultuous movement and 
excitement of the narrative. 

98 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



IDss Barrett has need only of real self-interest in 
her subjects to do justice to her subjects and to her- 
self. On the other hand, A Rhapsody ot Lilt's Prog^ 
resst although gleaming with cold coruscations^ is 
the least meritorious, because the most philosophical, 
effusion of the whole: this, we say, in flat contra- 
diction of the spoudiotaion kai pbilosopbikoiaton 
gsDos of Aristotle. Tbe Cry of the Human is singu- 
lariy effective, not more from the vigor and ghastly 
passion of its thought than from the artistically 
conceived arabesquerie of its rhythm. The Cry of 
the ChfUren, similar, although superior in tone and 
handling, is full of a nervous, unflinching energy — a 
horror sublime in its simplicity— of which a far 
greater than Dante might have been proud. Bertha 
ia the Lane, a rich ballad, very singularly excepted 
from the ^diolesale commendation of the Democratic 
Reriew as '' perhaps not one of the best," and desig- 
nated by Blackwood, on the contrary, as ** decidedly 
the flnest poem of the collection," is not the very 
best, we think, only because mere pathos, however 
exquisite, cannot be ranked with the loftiest exhibi- 
tions of the ideaL Of Lady GeraJdine's Courtship, 
the magarine last quoted observes that **some pith 
is put forth in its pasmonate parts." We will not 
pause to examine the delicacy or lucidity of the meta- 
phor embraced in the ** putting forth of some pith "; 
but unless by ^^some pith" itself is intended the 

99 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



utmost conceivable intensity and vigor, then the critic 
is merely damning with faint praise. With the ex- 
ception of Tennyson's Locksley Hall, we have never 
perused a poem combining so much of the fiercest 
passion with so much of the most ethereal fancy as 
the Lady GeraUine'a Courtabip of IGss Barrett We 
are forced to admit, however, that the latter work is 
a very palpable imitation of the former, which it sur- 
passes in plot, or rather in thesis, as much as it falls 
below it in artistical management, and a certain calm 
energy, lustrous and indomitable, such as we might 
imagine in a broad river of molten gold. 

It is in the Lady GeraUine that the critic of Blacks 
wood is again put at fault in the comprehendon of a 
couple of passages. He confesses his inability **to 
make out the construction of the words, * All that 
spirits pure and ardent are cast out of love and rever- 
ence, because chancing not to hold.' '' There are 
comparatively few American schoolboys vdio could 
not parse it. The prosaic construction would run 
thus : "All that (wealth understood) because chancing 
not to hold which (or on account of not holding which), 
all pure and ardent spirits are cast out of love and 
reverence." The " which " is involved in the relative 
pronoun " that,'' the second word of the sentence. All 
that we know is, that Miss Barrett is right; here is a 
parallel phrase, meaning ** all that (which) we know," 
etc. The fact is, that the accusation of imperfect 

xoo 



H -. . . • 






1 

1 


■ ■ 
ft 


# 


•, ■■!♦• 'ritic 


4 
• 


, ■ 1 . ii : ■ .;..• ex- 




/.' . AY ]..»• p never 




h "f \hf ^.rrcest 


t 


• al fancy as 



, • y * rrett. We 

• •,* . r. I - -r »• laUer work is 

1 .♦ fpr- f ^T.-r, vi'hich it sur- 

■ •*'•. -^ ij iiiuch as it falls 

M, .". . J a certain calm 

.■ !. % s ^'h as wc might 

. *. Y_ '^^ tlje critic of Blacks 

R#f;^:.-B^^^^aH?|fehension of a 
From 1^ R^i«i^i«kf|;^ i(tes<lftability " to 

-u - of the words, 'All that 

t ■ ■ ' « lit of love and rever- 

•• .« to Iv'ld.' •• There are 

f . S'.lio'.lboys who could 

i\ t , II. J l•'.:^^:raction would nm 

tbi:.>- **A*- t] i- •• i.)od) because chancing 

i-,.^ :■ ...n of n'.\ holding which\ 

• If ?:• 'I .* M.u c::'t out of love and 

M. V.'* ! ■ ** ' " is ir\ -»l^'r(l in the relative 

■ *• ■ •.' ■ • -'lof '.0 si'iiience. All 

■ ;. u:w . , • ' • ■ ■ • t i- !-^::ht; here is a 

"I--, ■/ -■• . t, ** • '-.sMch) we ki'ou/* 

T u'it i., tli<.i *.>e ut cu^ati'-ii of imperfect 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



grammar would have been more safely, if more gen- 
erally, urged; in descending to particular exceptions, 
the reviewer has been doing little more than exposing 
himself at all points. 

Turning aside, however, from grammar, he declares 
his incapacity to fathom the meaning of 

She has halls and she has castles, and the resonant steam-eagles 
Follow far on the directing of her floating doTe-like hand — 

With a thunderous vapor trailing underneath the starry vigils. 
So to mark upon the Uasted heaven the measure of her land. 

Now it must be understood that he is profoundly 
serious in his declaration; he really does not appre- 
hend the thought designed, and he is even more than 
profoundly serious, too, in intending these his own 
comments upon his own stolidity, for wit : ** We 
thought that steam-coaches generally followed the 
directing of no hand except the stoker's, but it, cer- 
tainly, is always much liker a raven than a dove." 
After this, who shall question the infallibility of 
Christopher North ? We presume there are very few 
of our readers who will not easily appreciate the richly 
imaginative conception of the poetess: The Lady 
Geraldine is supposed to be standing in her own door 
(positively not on the top of an engine), and thence 
pointing, ** with her floating dove-like hand," to the 
lines of vapor, from the ** resonant steam-eagles," 
that designate upon the ** blasted heaven " the remote 
boundaries of her domain. But, perhaps, we are 

lOI 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



guilty of a veiy gross absurdity ourselvesi in com- 
menting at all upon the whimsicalities of a reviewer 
who can deliberately select for special animadveision 
the second of the four verses we here copy: 

'* Eyes," he asid, ** now throbbing throng mel axe ye eyes that 

did undo me 7 
SbhUag eye» tike antique fewth Bet in Puiuk wMue^tione! 
Underneath that calm idiite forehead are ye e^er Inuning 

torrid 
O'er the desolate sand desert of my heart and life undone ? " 

The ghost of the Great Frederick mig^t, to be sure, 
quote at US| in his own Latin, his favorite adage, De 
gustibas non est dhputanduB; but, when we take 
into consideration the moral designed, the weirdness 
of effect intended, and the historical adaptation of the 
fact alluded to, in the line italicized (a fact of which 
it is by no means impossible that the critic is ignorant), 
we cannot refrain from expressing our conviction, and 
we here express it in the teeth of the whole horde of the 
Ambrosianians, that from the entire range of poetical 
literature there shall not, in a century, be produced a 
more sonorous, a more vigorous verse, a juster, a 
nobler, a more ideal, a more magnificent image, than 
this very image, in this veiy verse, which the most 
noted magazine of Europe has so especially and so 
contemptuously condemned. 

The Lady GeraUine is, we think, the only poem of 
its au;thor which is not deficient, considered as an 

I02 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



artistical whole. Her constructive ability, as we have 
already suggested, is either not very remarkable, or 
has never been properly brought into play; in truth, 
her genius is too impetuous for the minuter techni- 
calities of that elaborate art so needful in the build- 
ing up of pyramids for immortality. This deficiency, 
then, if there be any such, is her chief weakness. Her 
other foibles, although some of them are, in fact, 
glaring, glare, nevertheless, to no veiy material ill 
purpose. There are none which she will not readily 
dismiss in her future works. She retains them now, 
perhaps, because unaware of their existence. 

Her affectations are unquestionably many, and gen- 
erally inexcusable. We may, perhaps, tolerate such 
words as ** bM," ** chrysm,'' ** nympholeptic,'' ** oeno- 
mel," and '' chrysopras " ; they have at least the 
merit either of distinct meaning, or of terse and 
sonorous expression; but what can be well said in 
defence of the unnecessary nonsense of '' 'ware " for 
"aware"; of "'bide" for "abide"; of "'gins" 
for " begins "; of " las " for " alas "; of " oftty," 
" ofter," and " oftest," for « often," " more often," 
and ** most often " ; or of ** erelong " in the sense of 
" long ago " ? That there is authority for the mere 
words proves nothing; those who employed them in 
their day would not employ them if writing now. Al- 
though we grant, too, that the poetess is very usually 
Homeric in her compounds, there is no intelligibility of 

103 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



constnictioii, and therefore no force of meaning, in 
*' dew-pallid," ^ pale-paasioned,'* and '* alFer-fiolemn.** 
Neither have we any partiality for ^ drave ** or ^at^ 
preme,'' or ^lenient''; and, wliile vpoa this topic, 
we may as well observe that there are few readers 
who do anything but laugh, or stare, at such phrases 
as ''L. E. L.'s Last Question," *<The Cry of the 
Human," *' Leaning from my human," *' Heaven 
assist the human," <' the full sense of your mortal," 
'' a grave for your divine," ^ falling off from our 
created," '' he sends this gag» for thy pity's count- 
ing," ** they could not press their futures on the present 
of her courtesy," or ** could another fairer lack to 
thee, lack to thee ? " There are few, at the same time, 
who do not feel disposed to weep outright when they 
hear of such things as '' Hope withdrawing her per- 
adventure," ^* spintB dealing in pathos of antithesis," 
« angels in antagonism to God and his reflex beati- 
tudes," '' songs of glories ruffling down doorways," 
^* God's possibles," and ** rules of Mandom." 

We have already said, however, that mere quaint- 
ness, within reasonable limit, is not only not to be 
regarded as affectation, but has its proper artistic uses 
in aiding a fantastic effect We quote from the lines. 
To Flash, my Dog, a passage in exemplification: 

Leapt thy broad tail waves a lightl 
Leap I thy tender feet are bright, 
Canopied in fringes; 

104 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



Laapl those tasselled ears of thino 
Flicker strangeiyy fair and fine, 
Down their golden inches I 

And again — ^from the song of a tree-spirit, in the 

The divine impulsion cleaves 
In dim movements to the leaves 
Bropt and lifted, dropt and lifted. 
In the smilight greenly sifted, — 
In the sunlight and the moonlight 
Greenly sifted through the trees, 
Ever wave the Eden trees. 
In the nightlight and the noonlight, 
With a ruf9ing of green branches, 
Shaded off to resonances, 
Never stirred hy rain or breeze. 

The thoughtSi here, belong to the highest order of 
poetry, but they could not have been wrought into 
effective expression vrithout the instrumentality of 
those repetitions, those unusual phrases — ^in a word, 
those quaintnesses, which it has been too long the 
fashion to censure, indiscriminately, under the one 
general head of '' affectation. No true poet will fail 
to be enraptured with the two extracts above quoted ; 
but we believe there are few who would not find a 
difficulty in reconciling the psychal impossibility of 
refraining from admiration with the too-hastily at- 
tained conviction that, critically, there is nothing to 
admire. 

los 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



OecMtiooMOj wt meet in ICas Banetf s poems a 
certehi fer-fefchednwe of imagefy^ lAich is repi^ 
hensJMe in the extreme. What, for eTample, are we 
to Hunk of 

How he hens die engd Toioes 
FoUiflia iilence hi die room ? — 

nndoabtedly, that it is nonsense, and no more; or of 

How die tflffMy mmd you shivers 
WhOe OUT Toioes duoa^ it go 7 — 

again, nnqnestionaMy, that it is nonsense, and noth- 
ing beyond. 

Sometimes we are startled by knotty paradoxes; 
and it is not acquitting their perpetrator of all blame 
on their account to admit that, in some instances, 
they are susceptible of solution. It is really difficult 
to discover anything for approbation in ftngimag such 

That bright Impawrive, passive angel-hood, 
or. 

The silence of my heart is fnU of sound. 

At long intervals we are annoyed by specimens of 
repulsive imagery, as where the children cry: 

How long, O cruel nation, 
WiU yon stand to move the world, on a c&ATa bemf — 
Stilk down with 9 auiOed beel h» pai^Hathn / etc. 

Now, and then, too, we are confounded by a pure 
platitude, as when Eve exclaims : 

io6 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



Leave us not 
Id agony beyond what we can bear. 
And in debaaement behw Ukuodtf^nmrkl 

or, when the Saviour is made to say: 

So, at lastl 
He shall look round on you iMk 1U» too gtnttgbt 
To hoSd tbe gtmielul iean^ 

''Strait" was, no doubt, intended, but does not 
materially elevate, although it slightly elucidates, the 
thought A veiy remarkable passage is that, also, 
wherein Eve bids the infant voices 

Hear the steep generations, how they fall 
Adown the visionaiy stairs of Time, 
like supematnral thunders — ^far, yet near, 
Sowing their fiery echoes through the hills 1 

Here, saying nothing of the affectation in '' adown '' 
not alluding to the insoluble paradox of ''far yet 
near " ; not mentioning the inconsistent metaphor in- 
volved in the " sowing of fieiy echoes '' ; adverting but 
slightly to the misusage of " like," in place of " as," 
and to the impropriety of making anything fall like 
thunder, which has never been known to fall at aU; 
merely hinting, too, at the misapplication of " steep " 
to the " generations " instead of to the " stairs," — a 
perversion in no degree to be justified by the fact that 
so preposterous a figure as synecdoche exists in the 
school-books ; — ^letting these things pass for the pres- 
ent, we shall still find it difficult to understand how Miss 

107 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



Barrett should have been led to think that the princi- 
pal idea itself — ^the abstract idea, the idea of tumbling 
down-staiiSy in any shape, or under any circumstances 
— either a poetical or a decorous conception. And 
yet we have seen this very passage quoted as ^* sub- 
lime," by a critic who seems to take it for granted, 
as a general rule, that Nat-Leeism is the loftiest order 
of literary merit. That the lines very narrowly missed 
sublimity, we grant; that they came within a step of 
it, we admit; but, unhappily, the step is the one stq> 
which, time out of mind, has intervened between the 
sublime and the ridiculous. So true is this, that any 
person — that even we, with a very partial modifica- 
tion of the imagery, a modification that shall not 
interfere with its richly spiritual tone, may elevate 
the quotation into unexceptionability. For example, 
and we offer it with profound deference : 

Hear the far ge&eratioiia — ^how they crash, 
From crag to crag, down the predpitotis Time, 
In multitadinoiu thmidera that iqwtartle, 
Aghast, the echoes from their cavemoiis lairs 
In the visionary hillsl 

We have no doubt that our version has its faults ; 
but it has, at least, the merit of consistency. Not 
only is a moimtain more poetical than a pair of stairs, 
but echoes are more appropriately typified as wild 
beasts than as seeds; and echoes and wild beasts 
agree better with a moimtain, than does a pair of stairs 

io8 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



the sowing of seeds; even admitting that these 
seeds be seeds of firei and be sown broadcast ** among 
the hills," by a steep generation, while in the act of 
tnmUing down the stairs; that is to say, of coming 
down the stairs in too violent a hurry to be capable 
of sowing the seeds as accurately as all seeds should 
be sown; nor is the matter rendered any better for 
Miss Barrett, even if the construction of her sentence 
is to be understood as implying that the fiery seeds 
were sown not immediately by the steep generations 
that tumbled down the stairs, but mediately, through 
the intervention of the ** supernatural thunders '' that 
were occasioned by the ** steep generations '' that 
tumbled down the stairs. 

The poetess is not unfrequently guilty of repeating 
herself. The '' thunder cloud veined by lightning " 
appears, for instance, on pages 34 of the first, and 228 
of the second volume. The ^* silver clash of wings " 
is heard at pages 53 of the first, and 269 of the second; 
and angel tears are discovered to be falling as well 
at page 27 as at the conclusion of the Drama of 
ExUe* Steam, too, in the shape of Death's White 
Horse, comes upon the ground, both at page 244 of 
the first, and 179 of the second volume, and there are 
multitudinous other repetitions, both of phrase and 
idea, but it is the excessive reiteration of pet words 
which is, perhaps, the most obtrusive of the minor 
errors of the poet '' Chrystalline," ''Apocalypse," 

109 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



** foregone,'* ** evangd,** ** Vaie,** " throb,** *« le^el,** 
^ loss,*' and the musical term ^ minor,*' are forever 
ttpon her lipe. The chief favorites, however, are 
^ down ** and '* leaning,** wbkh, are echoed and re- 
echoed not only ad inSoHum, but in every whimsical 
variation of import As ICss Barrett certainly can- 
not be aware of the extent of this mannerism, we will 
venture to call her attention to a few, comparatively 
a very few, examples: 

PMling dnm the depths of Godhead • • • 

Smiling down as Ventis down the wsves • • • 

SmiHng down the steep worid veiy pordy • • • 

Down the pniple of this duunher • . • 

Moving down the hidden depths of loving • • • 

Cold the son shines down the door • . • 

Which brought angels down our talk . . • 

Let your souls behind you kon gently moved • • • 

But angels kaning from the golden seats • . • 

And melancholy kudng out of heaven . • • 

And I know the heavens are koning down . . • 

Then over the casement she konedi . . . 

Forbear that dream, too near to heaven it koned • • • 

I would kon my spirit o'er you . . . 

Thoui O sapient angel, kaneot o'er . . . 

Shapes of brightness orakon thee . . • 

They are ImoIiv their young heads . . • 

Out of heaven shall o'er yon kon • . • 

While my spirit kone and reaches . . . 

etc., etc., etc. 

In the matter of grammar, upon which the Edin- 

IIO 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



borgh critic insists so pertinaciously, the author of 
the Drama ot Exile seems to us even peculiarly with- 
out fault. The nature of her studies has, no doubt, 
imbued her with a very delicate instinct of construc- 
tive accuracy. The occasional uses of phrases so 
questionable as ^* from whence,'' and the far-fetched- 
ness and involution of which we have already spoken, 
are the only noticeable blemishes of an exceedingly 
chaste, vigorous, and comprehensive style. 

In her inattention to rhythm, Miss Barrett is guilty 
of an error that might have been fatal to her fame, 
that would have been fatal to any reputation less solidly 
founded than her own. We do not allude so particu- 
larly to her multiplicity of inadmissible rhymes. We 
would wish, to be sure, that she had not thought proper 
to couple ^' Eden " and << succeeding," ** glories " and 
** floorwise,'' '* burning " and ** morning," ** thither " 
and ''aether," ''enclose me" and "across me," 
" misdoers " and " flowers," " centre " and " winter," 
" guerdon " and " pardon," "conquer" and "anchor," 
" desert " and " unmeasured," " atoms " and " fath- 
oms," " opal " and " people," " glory " and " door- 
way," " trumpet " and " accompted," " taming " and 
" overcame him^ •• ** coming " and " woman," " is " 
and "trees," "off" and "sunproof," "eagles" and 
" vigils," " nature " and " satire," " poems " and " in- 
terflowings," " certes " and " virtues," " pardon " and 
" burden," " thereat " and " great," " children " and 

III 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



<< bewildering/' ''mortal" and ''turtle/' "moon- 
shine " and " sunshine." It would have been better, 
we say, if such apologies for rhymes as these had 
been rejected. But deficiencies of rhjrthm are more 
serious. In some cases it is nearly impossible to 
determine what metre is intended. The Cry ot 
the Children cannot be scanned; we never saw so 
poor a specimen of verse. In imitating the rhythm 
of Loeksley Hali the poetess has preserved with 
accuracy (so far as mere syllables are concerned) the 
forcible line of seven trochees with a final caesura. 
The " double rhymes " have only the force of a single 
long syllable, a csraura; but the natural rhythmical 
division, occurring at the close of the fourth trochee, 
should never be forced to occur, as Miss Barrett con- 
stantly forces it, in the middle of a word, or of an 
indivisible phrase. If it do so occur, we must sacri- 
fice, in perusal, either the sense or the rhythm. If 
she will consider, too, that this line of seven trochees 
and a CASura is nothing more than two lines written 
in one — ^a line of four trochees, succeeded by one of 
three trochees and a caesura — she will at once see 
how unwise she has been in composing her poem in 
quatrains of the long line with alternate rhymes in- 
stead of immediate ones, as is the case of Lodaky 
HalL The result is, that the ear, expecting the 
rhymes before they occur, does not appreciate them 
when they do. These points, however, will be best 

112 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



exemplified by transcriUng one of the quatrains in its 
natural arrangement. That actually employed is ad- 
dressed only to the eye. 

Oh, she fluttered like a taxne bird 

In among its forest brothers 
Far too strong for it I ttien, drooping, 

Bowed her face upon her hands. 
And I spake out wildly, fiercely. 

Brutal truths of lier and others I 
I, she planted in tlie desert. 

Swathed her, wind-like, with my sands. 

Here it will be seen that there is a paucity of rhyme, 
and that it is expected at closes where it does not 
occur. In fact, if we consider the eight lines as two 
independent quatrains (which they are), then we find 
them entirely rhymdess. Now so unhappy are these 
metrical defects — of so much importance do we take 
them to be, that we do not hesitate in declaring the 
general inferiority of the poem to its prototype to be 
altogether chargeable to them. With equal rhythm 
Lady GeraUine had been far, very far the superior 
poem. Ineflicient rhythm is inefficient poetical ex- 
pression ; and expression, in poetry, — ^what is it ? what 
is it not? No one living can better answer these 
queries than Miss Barrett. 

We conclude our comments upon her versification, 
by quoting (we will not say whence, from what one 
of her poems) a few verses without the linear division 

VOL* ▼IIL— 8. 11^ 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



as it appean in the book. There are many readers 
who would never suspect the passage to be intended for 
metre at alL ** Ayl and sometimes, on the hillside, 
while we sat down on the gowans, with the forest 
green behind us, and its shadow cast before, and the 
river running under, and, across it from the rowans a 
partridge whirring near us till we felt the air it bore — 
there, obedient to her praying, did I read aloud the 
poems made by Tuscan flutes, or instruments more 
various of our own, read the pastoral parts of Spenser, 
or the subtle interflowings f oimd in Petrarch's son- 
nets; here 's the bookl the leaf is folded downl '' 

With this extract we make an end of our fault- 
finding, and now shall we speak, equally in detail, of 
the beauties of this book? AlasI here, indeed, do 
we feel the impotence of the pen. We have already 
said that the supreme excellence of the poetess whose 
works we review is made up of the multitudinous 
sums of a world of lofty merits. It is the multiplicity, 
it is the aggregation, which excites our most profound 
enthusiasm, and enforces our most earnest respect 
But unless we had space to extract three fourths of 
the volumes, how could we convey this aggregation by 
specimens ? We might quote, to be sure, an example 
of keen insight into our psychal natures, such as 

I feU flooded with a Dark, 

In the dlence of a iwoon; 
When I roM, ttUl cold and itark^ 

114 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



Tliere wis night, — ^I saw the moon; 
And the stars, each in it. place, 



And the May-Uooms on the grass, 
Seemed to wonder what I was. 

And I walked as If apart 
From myself, when I could stand. 

And I pitied my own heart. 
As if I held it in my hand 

Somewhat coldly, — ^with a sense 

Of fulfilled benevolence. 

Or we might copy an instance of the purest and 
most radiant imagination, such as this: 

So, yovng mnser, I sat listening. 

To my Fancy's wildest word. 

On a sudden, through the glistening 

Leaves around, a little stirred. 
Came a sound, a sense of music, which was rather felt 

than heard. 

Softly, finely, it inwound me. 

From the world it shut me in, 

Like a fountain falling round me 

Which with silver waters thin. 
Holds a little marble Naiad sitting smilingly within. 

Or, again, we might extract a specimen of wild Dan- 
tesque vigor, such as this, in combination with a 
pathos never excelled : 

Ay! be silent — let them hear each other breathing 

For a moment, mouth to mouth; 
Let them touch each other's hands in a fresh wreathing 

Of their tender human youth! 

IIS 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



Let them feel that this cold metallic motion 
Ib not all the life God fashioni or reveals; 

Let them prove their inward souls against the notion 
That they live in you, or mider you, O wheels I 

Qti still again, we might give a passage embodying 
the most elevated sentiment, most tersely and musicaUy 
thus expressed: 

And since, Prince Albert, men have called thy spirit high and 

rare, 
And truth to truth, and brave for truth, as some at Augsburg 

were. 
We charge thee by thy lofty thoughts, and by thy poet-mind, 
Which not by glory or degree takes measure of ma«iri«<i^ 
Esteem that wedded hand less dear for sceptre than for ring, 
And hold her uncrowned womanhood to be the royal thing I 

These passages, we say, and a hmidred similar ones, 
exemplifying particular excellences, might be displayed, 
and we should still fail, as lamentably as the BkolaB^ 
tikos with his brick, in conveying an idea of the vast 
totality. By no individual stars can we present the 
constellatory radiance of the book. To the book then, 
with implicit confidence, we appeal. 

That Miss Barrett has done more in poetry than any 
woman, living or dead, will scarcely be questioned; 
that she has surpassed aU her poetical contemporaries 
of either sex, with a single exception, is our deliberate 
opinion, not idly entertained, we think, nor founded 
on any visionary basis. It may not be uninteresting, 
therefore, in closing this examination of her claims, 

ii6 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



to determine in what manner she holds poetical rela- 
tion with these contemporaries, or with her immediate 
predecessorsi and especially with the great exception 
to which we have alluded, if at alL 

U ever mortal ** wreaked his thoughts upon ezpres- 
aon," it was SheUey. 1i ever poet sang (as a bird 
sings) impulsively^ earnestly, with utter abandon- 
ment to himself solely, and for the mere joy of his 
own song, that poet was the author of Tbe Sensitive 
Plant Of art, beyond that which is the inalienable 
instinct of genius, he either had little or disdained 
alL He really disdained that rule which is the emana- 
tion from law, because his own soul was law in itself. 
His rhapsodies are but the rough notes, the steno- 
graphic memoranda of poems,— memoranda which, be- 
cause they were all-sufficient for his own intelligence, 
he cared not to be at the trouble of transcribing in full 
for mankind. In his whole life he wrought not thor- 
oughly out a single conception. For this reason it is 
that he is the most fatiguing of poets. Tet he wearies 
in having done too little rather than too much; what 
seems in him the diffuseness of one idea is the con- 
glomerate concision of many; and this concision it is 
which renders him obscure, "^th such a man, to 
imitate was out of the question; it would have an- 
swered no purpose, for he spoke to his own spirit 
alone, which would have comprehended no alien 
tongue; he was, therefore, profoundly originaL His 

117 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



qnaintnefls arose from intoitiTe perception of that 
troth to which Lord Venslam alone has given distinct 
▼oice: '* There is no exquisite beauty wliich has not 
some strangeness in its proportion.** But whether 
obscure, origuud, or quaint, he was at all times sm- 
cere. He had no affectations. 

From the ruins of Shelley tliere sprang into existence, 
affronting the heavens, a tottering and fantastic pagoda 
in which the salient angles, tipped with mad, jan^^ing 
bdls, were the idiosyncratic faults of the great original 
— ^faults wliich cannot be called such in view of his 
purposes, but which are monstrous when we regard 
his works as addressed to mankind. A ** school " 
arose, if that absurd term must still be employed, — 
a school, a system of rules, upon the basis of the Shel- 
ley who had none. Toung men innumerable, dazzled 
with the g^are and bewildered with the bizarrerie of 
the divine lightning that flickered through the clouds 
of the PrometheuB, had no trouble whatever in heaping 
up imitative vapors, but, for the lightning, were con- 
tent, perforce, with its spectrum, in which the bizar^ 
rerie appeared without the fire. Nor were great and 
mature minds unimpressed by the contemplation of a 
greater and more mature; and thus gradually were 
interwoven into this school of all lawlessness, of 
obscurity, quaintness, exaggeration, the misplaced 
didacticism of Wordsworth, and the even more prepos- 
terously anomalous metaphysidanism of Coleridge. 

ii8 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



Matten were now fast verging to their worst, and at 
lengthy in Tennyson, poetic inconsistency attained its 
extreme. But it was precisely this extreme, for the 
greatest error and the greatest truth are scarcely two 
points in a circle, — ^it was this extreme which, follow- 
ing the law of all extremes, wrought in him (in Ten- 
nyson) a natural and inevitable revulsion, leading 
him first to contemn and secondly to investigate his 
early manner, and finally to winnow from its mag- 
nificent elements the truest and purest of all poetical 
styles. But not even yet is the process complete ; and 
for this reason in part, but chiefiy on account of the 
mere fortuitousness of that mental and moral combina- 
tion which shall tmite in one person (if ever it shall) 
the Shelleyan abandon, the Tennysonian poetic sense, 
the most profound instinct of art, and the sternest will 
property to blend and vigorously to control all, — 
chiefly, we say, because such combination of an- 
tagonisms must be purely fortuitous has the world 
never yet seen the noblest of the poems of which it 
is possible that it may be put in possession. 

And yet Hiss Barrett has narrowly missed the fulfil- 
ment of these conditions. Her poetic inspiration is the 
highest ; we can conceive nothing more august. Her 
sense of art is pure in itself, but has been contaminated 
by pedantic study of false models, a study which has 
the more easily led her astray because she placed an 
undue value upon it as rare, as alien to her character 

119 



Elizabeth Barrett Barrett 



of woman. The accident of having been long 
duded by ill-health from the woiid has effected, more- 
over, in her belialf , wbBt an innate recklessness did 
for Shelley, — ^has imparted to her, if not precisely tliat 
abandon to which I have referred, at least a sometliing 
that stands well in its stead, a comparative indepen- 
dence of men and opinions with which she did not 
come personally in contact, a happy andadty of 
thought and expression never before known in one of 
her sex. It is, however, this same acddent of ill- 
healtli, perhaps, which has invalidated her original 
will, diverted her from proper individuality of purpose, 
and seduced her into the sin of imitation. Thus, what 
she migjht have done we cannot altogether determine. 
What she has actually accomplished is before us. 
"^th Tennyson's works beside her, and a keen appre- 
ciation of them in her soul, appreciation too keen to 
be discriminative; with an imagination even more 
vigorous than his, although somewhat less ethereally 
delicate; with inferior art and more feeble volition, 
die has written poems such as he could not write, but 
such as he, under her conditions of ill-health and se- 
dudon, would have written during the epoch of his 
pupildom in tliat sdiool which arose out of Shelley, and 
from which, over a disgustful gulf of utter incongruity 
and absurdity, lit only by miasmatic flashes, into the 
broad, open meadows of natural art and divine genius, 
he, Tennyson, is at once the bridge and the trandtion. 

1 20 






/; i 



• ■ • 



. •': .11 tile w.>;ld !i;n elf-H-TLU, n'.«.ic- 
' '.•. ". . J fi'i ':/;.i^c 1- v!t' . I. ess did 

■ . • ; t. her, if n;t pieci-;ely that 
» . '-/vl, at \rH<.t a something 

.»: : • -: •/., a c^'irpirative ir.lepen- 
I \ii, T.s with which she did not 

■ C'ipract, a happy audacity of 
. .: never '}. f«>:e k.* wn in one of 
•■.^r, this sarae accl.ient of ill- 

. !i has iiir.il: Ititt^d her original 
L»pncb:.TieiBBlps4wi^»ty of purpose, 

From thC^galrflif?^ \>y'i?}¥'.\^tV-'^^ ^^^^^ 
we c:uinot r-'t )^etber determine. 

-•'iv accrr : .i .he«i is before us, 

• ■i'.-<i I ' • .1' Lrr, ai '^ a keen appre- 

[\ ?i» s'**\ •' ir^ij** •;! too keen to 

••'; <i I ii :. c'.:icui-n ever more 

' ' rx\vh;it less ethereally 

.■• ..'-1 n. /fe fneble vohtion, 

'. ^-^ he tf"i'd not wiite, but 

•• 'US . r ;:i-lifn'th and se- 

■■.1 c ..• / lae e:-Ovh of h^* 

' '' f ■ .«.: ti -i'^'-*!' *y, an ' 

* V • • 

•I'Ci*''', ■:: or ■. •'> .^ n - .->, i:*'"> 

1, v.\ ii m. tJi *A'^' o-' ;.. .. ' ■ : .!•. I .!.v: -.v * 
T- ^-■•'. ,' .n, is ac oi:l;» tL-. *•.... •. . J il:c *• 

1/ : 



b. 


J 




• < 


• 


»• 


» 


\\- 


V- 


1 


■ 


s i: 


• 




■« 


< 


(!. 


::c.> 


1 t 


; V. 


1* 

■ 


ii. 


»* 


ft r 1 1 « 


•*»i 


le h 


:'S 


wi ■ 


■• n 


P 


»» 


•i ^ 


^;:ch 


a«5 


he. 


Ulh 


i: -1 




>i > 


« 


•'*n. 


V. '11 


.1 4 


h,^ 


''. 


e *.% 




* 




"f\ L- 


t 

t •• 


ii * 


( 


* , 








• 


0. 


^'T 


a 


.4. 



William W. Lord" 



m 



Mr. Lord we know nothing, althon^ we 
beliere that he is a student at Princeton 
College, or perhaps a graduate, or periiaps 
a professor of that institution. Ofliis botdc, lately, we 
have heard a good deal ; that is to say, we have heard 
it announced in every posrible variation of phrase as 
" forthcoming." For several months past, indeed, 
much amusement has been occadoned in the various 
literary coteries in New York by the pertinacity and 
obviousness of an attempt made by the poefs friends 
to get up an anticipatory excitement in his favor. 
Then were multitudinous dark rumors of something 
In poMMe, whispered insinuations that the sun liad at 
length arisen or would certainly arise, that a book was 
really in press which would revolutionize the poetical 
worid, that tlie MS. had been submitted to the Inspec- 
tion of a junto of critics whose flat was well under^ 
stood to be fate (Mr. Charles King, If we remembn 

'fbtm By WUBain W. Lscd. Haw Tmki D. J^ptatoo * Co. 



William W. Lord" 



m 



Mr. Lord we know nothing, although we 
believe ttist he Is a student at Princeton 
College, or perhaps a graduate, or peihaps 
a professor of that institution. Of bis book, lately, we 
have heard a good deal; that is to say, we lure heard 
it announced in every possible variation of phrase as 
" forthcoming." For several months past, Indeed, 
much amusement has been occasioned in the various 
literary coteries in New Toik by the pertinad^ and 
obviousness of an attempt made by tiie poet's friends 
to get up an anticipatory excitement in his favor, 
niere were multitudinous dark rumors of something 
hi pogae, whispered insinuations that tiie sun had at 
length arisen or would certainly arise, that a book was 
really in press which would revolutionize the poetical 
worid, that tlie HS. had been submitted to tiie inspec- 
tion of a Junto of critics whose flat was well under- 
stood to be fate (Hr. Charles King, if we remember 

■Aim. Bt WmUm W. Lord. Rnr York : D. Appkton A Co. 



WiUiam W. Lord 



aright, fonning one of the junto), that the work had 
by them been approved, and its successful reception 
and illimitable glorification assured, Mr. Longfellow, 
in consequence, countermanding an order given his 
publishers (Redding & Co.) to issue forthwith a new 
threepenny edition of The Voices of the Night Sug- 
gestions of this nature, busily circulated in private, 
were, in good time, insinuated through the press, until 
at length the public expectation was as much on tiptoe 
as public expectation in America can ever be expected 
to be about so small a matter as the issue of a volume 
of American poems. The climax of this whole effort, 
however, at forestalling the critical opinion, and by 
far the most injudicious portion of the procedure, was 
the publisher's announcement of the forthcoming book 
as '' a very remarkable volume of poems." 

The fact is, the only remarkable things about Mr. 
Lord's compositions are their remarkable conceit, ig- 
norance, impudence, platitude, stupidity, and bombast : 
we are sorry to say all this, but there is an old adage 
about the falling of the heavens. Nor must we be 
misunderstood. We intend to wrong neither Mr. Lord 
nor our own conscience by denying him particular 
merits, such as they are. His book is not altogether 
contemptible, although the conduct of his friends has 
inoculated nine tenths of the conmnmity with the 
opinion that it is; but what we wish to say is, that 
*' remarkable " is by no means the epithet to be ap- 

122 



William W. Lord 



pliedy in the way of commendation, either to anything 
that he has yet done, or to anything that he may here- 
after accomplish. In a word, while he has imdoubt- 
edly given proof of a very ordinary species of talent, 
no man whose opinion is entitled to the slightest re- 
spect will admit in him any indication of genius. 

The ^ particular merits " to which, in the case of 
Mr. Lord, we have allusion, are merely the accidental 
merits of particular passages. We say ** accidental,'* 
because poetical merit which is not simply an accident 
is very sure to be f oimd, more or less, in a state of 
diflfusion throughout a poem. No man is entitled to 
the sacred name of poet because from z6o pages of 
doggerel may be culled a few sentences of worth. Nor 
would the case be in any respect altered if these few 
sentences, or even if a few passages of length, were of 
an excellence even supreme. For a poet is necessarily 
a man of genius, and with the spirit of true genius even 
its veriest commonplaces are intertwined and inextri- 
cably intertangled. When, therefore, amid a Sahara of 
platitude we discover an occasional oasis, we must not 
so far forget ourselves as to fancy any latent fertility 
in the sands. It is our purpose, however, to do the ' 
fullest justice to Mr. Lord, and we proceed at once to 
cull from his book whatever, in our opinion, will put 
in the fairest light his poetical pretensions. 

And first we extract the one brief passage which 
aroused in us what we recognized as the poetical 

123 



William W. Lord 



sentiment. It occurs at page 94 in Saiat Marfz GItU 
which, although ezcesavely unoriginal at all points, is, 
upon the whole, the least reprehensible poem of the 
volume. The heroine of the story, having taken a 
sleeping draught, after the manner of Juliet, is con- 
veyed to a vault (still in the same manner), and (still 
in the same manner) awakes in the presence of her 
lover, who comes to gaze on what he supposes her 
corpse: 

And each unto the other wss a dream; 

And 80 they gazed without a stir or breath. 

Until her head into the golden stream 

Of her wide tressefl, loosened from their wreath. 

Sank back, as she did yield again to death. 

At page 3, in a composition of much general elo- 
quence, there occur a few Unes of which we should 
not hestitate to speak enthusiastically were we not 
perfectly aware that Mr. Lord has no daim to their 
origination: 

Te winds 
That in the Impalpable deep caves of air. 
Moving your silent plumes, in dreams of flight. 
Tumultuous lie, and from your half-stretched wings 
Beat the faint zephyrs that disturb the airl 

At page 6, in the same poem, we meet also a pas- 
sage of high merit, although sadly disfigured: 

Thee the bright host of Heaven, 
The stars adore : — a thousand altars, fed 

124 



Will iam W. Lord 

By pure unwearied hands, like cressets Uaze 
In the blue depths of night; nor all unseen 
In the pale sky of day, with tempered light 
Bum radiant of thy praise. 

The disfiguration to which we allude lies in the 
making a blazing altar bum merely like a blazing 
cresset, a simile about as forcible as would be the 
lifr^fitng an apple to a pear, or the sea-foam to the 
froth on a pitcher of Burton's ale. 

At page 7, still in the same poem, we find some 
verses which are very quotable, and will serve to make 
our readers understand what we mean by the eloquence 
of the piece: 

Great Worshipper I hast thou no thought of "Blm. 

Who gave the son his brightness, winged the winds. 

And on the everlasting deep bestowed 

Its voiceless thunder — spread its fields of Une, 

And made them glorious itte an inner Bky 

Prom wbkh (&e hhndt rke Ukt atadbmt chudg. 

How beautiful I who gemmed thy zone with stars, 

Around thee threw Bis own cerulean robe, 

And bent His coronal about thy brows, 

Shaped of the seven splendors of the light, 

Piled up the mountains for thy throne; and thee 

The image of Bis beauty made and power. 

And gave thee to be sharer of Bis state. 

Bis majesty, ffis glory, and Bis fearl 

We extract this not because we like it ourselves, but 
because we take it for granted that there are many 
who will, and that Mr. Lord himself would desire us to 

I as 



William W. Lord 



extract it as a ^edmen of his power. The '* Great 
Worahipper " is Hatare. We disapprove, however, 
tiie man-mDliiier method in idiich she is tricked out, 
item by item. The *' How beautifull ** should be mi- 
derstood, we fancy, as an expression of admiration on 
the part of Kr. Lord for the fine idea idiich imme- 
diately precedes. Out idea which we have italicized. 
It is, in fact, by no means destitute of force, but we 
have met it before. 

At page 70 there are two stanzas addressed To My 
Sister, The first of these we cite as the best thing of 
equal length to be found in the book. Its conclusion 
is particularly notde: 

And ahsll we meet in hesTen, and know and love ? 
Do human feelings in that world above 
Unchanged survive ? Uest thought I but ah, I fear 
That thou, dear sister, in some other sphere. 
Distant from mine wiU (wilt) find a brigjiter home. 
Where I, unworthy found, may never come : — 
Or be so high above the glorified, 
That I, a meaner angel, undescried, 
Seeking thine eyes, such love alone shall see 
As angels give to aU bestowed on me; 
And when my voice upon thy ear shall fsU, 
Hear only such reply as angels give to alL 

We give these lines as they are: their grammatical 
construction is faulty; and the punctuation of the 
line renders the sense equivocaL 

126 



William W. Lord 



Of that species of composition which comes most 
appropriately mider the head '* Drivel," we should 
have no trouble in selecting as many specimens as 
our readers could desire. We will aflUct them with 
one or two: 

SONG 

O soft is the ringdove's eye of love 
When her mate returns from a weary flight. 

And farigjitest of aU the stars above 

Is the one bright star that leads the night. 

But softer thine eye than the dove's by far, 
When of friendship and pity thou speakest to me; 

And brighter, O brighter, than eve's one star, 
When of love, sweet maid, I speak to thee. 

Here is another 

SONG 

Oh, a heart it loves, it loves thee. 

That never loved before; 
Oh, a heart it loves, it loves thee. 

That heart can love no more. 

As the rose was in the bud, love. 

Ere it opened into sight. 
As yon star in drumlie daylight 

Behind the blue was bright ; 

So thine image in my heart, love. 

As pure, as bright, as fair. 
Thyself unseen, unheeded, 

I saw and loved it there. 

127 



William W. Lord 



Ohy a heart it loyea, it loves thee 

As a heart ne'er loved before ; 
Oh, a heart, it loves, loves, loves thee. 

That heart can love no more. 

In the Widow's Complaint we are entertained after 
this fashion : 

And what are these children 

I once thought my own. 
What now do they seem 

But his orphans alone ? 

In The New CaBtalia we have it thus: 

Then a pallid beauteous maiden 
Golden ghastly robes arrayed in, 
Such a wondrous strain displayed in 
In a wondrous song of Aidenne, 
That all the gods and goddeases 
Shook their golden yellow tresses, 
Parnassus' self made half afraid in. 

Just above this there is something about aged bd^ 
dames dreaming 

of white throats sweetly Jagged 
With a ragged butch-knife dull, 
And of night-mares neighing, weighing, 
On a sleeper's bosom squatting. 

But in mercy to our readers we forbear. 

Mr. Lord is never elevated above the dead level of 
his habitual platitude, by even the happiest thesis in 
the world. That any man could| at one and the same 

128 



William W. Lord 



time, fancy himself a poet and string together as 
many pitiable ioanities as we see here, on so truly 
suggestive a thesis as that of A lady takiag the Veil, 
is to our apprehension a miracle of miracles. The 
idea would seem to be, of itself, sufficient to elicit fire 
from ice, to breathe animation into the most stolid of 
stone. Mr. Lord winds up a dissertation on the sub- 
ject by the patronizing advice, 

Ere thon, imvocaUe, to that dark creed 
Art yielded, thhik, O Lady, thmk again— 

the whole of which would read better if it were 

Ere thon, irrevocaUe, to this d — d doggerel 

Art yielded, Lord, thinkl tldnkl ah, tldnk againi 

Even with the great theme, Niagara, our poet fails 
in his obvious effort to work himself into a fit of in- 
spiration. One of his poems has for title A Hymn to 
Niagara, but from beginning to end it is nothing more 
than a very silly ** Hymn to Mr. Lord." Instead of 
describing the fall (as well as any Mr. Lord could be 
supposed to describe it) he rants about what / feel 
here, and about what / did not feel there; till at last 
the figure of little Mr. Lord, in the shape of a great 
capital, gets so thoroughly in between the reader and 
the waterfall that not a particle of the latter is to be 
discovered. At one point the poet directs his soul to 
issue a proclamation as follows : 

TouTm.-^ 129 



William W. Lord 



ProdAimy my 8011I9 proclaim it to the akyt 
And tell the ttan, and tell the hills whoee feet 
Are in the depths of earth, their peaks in heaven, 
And tell the Ocean's old familiar face 
Beheld by day and night, in calm and storm, 
That they, nor aught beside in earth or heaven. 
Like thee, tremendous torrent, have so filled 
Hb thought of beauty, and so awed with mightl 

The ** Its ** has reference to the soul of Mr. Lord, 
who thinks it necessary to issue a proclamation to the 
stars and the hills and the ocean's old familiar face, 
lest the stars and the hills and the ocean's old familiar 
face should chance to be unaware of the fact that it 
(the soul of Mr. Lord) admitted the waterfall to be a 
fine thing; but whether the cataract for the compli- 
ment, or the stars for the information, are to be con- 
sidered the party chiefly obUged — ^that, for the life of 
us, we cannot telL 

From the ** first impression" of the cataract, he 
says: 

At length my soul awaked — ^waked not again 
To be o'erpressed, o'ermastered, and engulphed. 
But of itself possessed, o'er aU without 
Felt conscious mastery! 

And then 
Retired within, and self-withdrawn, I stood 
The twofold centre and informing soul 
Of one vast harmony of sights and sounds. 
And from that deep abyss, that rock-built shrine, 

130 



William W. Lord 



Thoagli mate my own frail Yoice, I poured a hymn 
Of ** praise and gratulation " like the noiae 
Of handed angels when they shout to wake t 

En^yreai echoes I 

That 80 vast a personage as Mr. Lord should not be 
o'ermastered by the cataract, but feel '* conscious mas- 
tery over all without *' — and over all within, too— is 
certainly nothing more than reasonable and proper; 
but then he should have left the detail of these little 
facts to the cataract or to some other uninterested 
individual ; even Cicero has been held to blame for a 
want of modesty, and although, to be sure, Cicero was 
not Mr. Lordf still Mr. Lord may be in danger of blame. 
He may have enemies (veiy little men!) who will pre- 
tend to deny that the ** hymn of praise and gratula- 
tion '* (if this is the hymn) bears at all points more 
than a partial resemblance to the ** noise of banded 
angels when they shout to wake empyreal echoes.*' 
Vot that we intend to deny it, but tbeywOl: — ^they are 
rerjr Uttle people and they wUL 

We have said that the '* remarkable '* feature, or at 
least one of the ** remarkable '' features of this volume 
is its platitude, its flatness. Whenever the reader 
meets anything not decidedly flat, he may take it for 
granted at once that it is stolen. When the poet 
speaks, for example, at page 148, of 

Flowers, of young poets the first words, 

131 



W. Lord 



^o can fail to remember the line in the Merry VTrea 
otWindtori 

Faixiei use flowen for their characteiy ? 
At page zo he says: 

Great oaks their heavenward lifted arms stretch forth 
In Buppliancel 

The same thoui^t will be f omid in Petbamt where 
the author is describing the dead tree beneath which 
is committed the murder. The grossest plagiarisms, 
indeed, abound. We would have no trouble, even, in 
pointing out a score from our most unimportant self. 
At page 27 Mr. Lord says: 

They, albeit with inward pain. 

Who thought to sing thy dirge, must dng thy psBanl 

In a poem called Lenore we have it: 

Avatmtl to-night my heart is light; no dirge will I upraise. 
But waft the angel on her flight with a pssan of old daysl 

At page 13 Mr. Lord says of certain flowers that 
Ere beheld on Earth they gardened Heavenl 

We print it as printed, note of admiration and alL In 
a poem called At Aaraafwe have it thus: 

A gemmy flower, 
Inmate of highest stars, where erst it shamed 
All other loveliness ^— *t was dropped from heaven 
And fell on gardens of the unf oigiven 
IhTrebizond. 

133 



William W. Lord 



At page 57 Mr. Lord says: 



On the old and haitntod mountain, 

There in dreams I dared to dimby 
Where the clear Castalian f otmtaln 
(SilTer f otmtain) ever tinklifig 
All the green around it sprinkling 

Makes perpetual rhyme — 
To my dream enchanted, golden, 
Came a virion of the olden 
Long-forgotten time. 



There axe no doubt many of our friends who will 

remember the commencement of our Haunted Palace t 

I 

In the greenest of our valleys I 

By good angels tenanted, 
Once a fair and stately palace — 

Radiant palace — reared its head. 
In the monarch Thought's dominion 

It stood there! 
Hever seraph spread a pinion 

Over fabric half so fair. 

Banners yeUow, glorious, golden. 

On its roof did float and flow, 
(This, all this, was in the olden 

Time, long ago). 

At page 60 Mr. Lord says: 

And the aged beldames napping, 
Dreamed of gently rapping, rapping. 
With a hammer gently tapping. 
Tapping on an infant's skulL 

»33 



William W. Lord 



b The Raven we have it: 

While I nodded neatly neiqping, 
Suddenly theie came a tapping, 
Ab of some one gently n^yping. 
Rapping at my chamber door. 

Bttt it is folly to puxBue these thefts. As to any 
property of our own, Mr. Lord is very cordially wel- 
come to whatever use he can make of it But others 
may not be so padflcally disposed, and the book before 
U8 migjit be very materially thinned and reduced in 
cost by discarding from it all that belongs to Miss Bar- 
rett, Tennyson, Keats, Shelley, Proctor, Longfellow, 
and Lowell, the very dass of poets, by the way, whom 
Mr. William W. Lord, in his New CastaUa, the most 
especially affects to satirize and to contemn. 

It has been rumored, we say, or, rather, it has been 
announced that Mr. Lord is a graduate or, perhaps, a 
professor of Princeton College, but we have had much 
difficulty in believing anything of the kind. The pages 
before us are not only utterly devoid of that classicism 
of tone and manner, that better species of classicism 
which a liberal education never fails to impart, but 
they abound in the most outrageously vulgar violations 
of grammar, of prosody in its most extended sense. 

Of verdflcation, and all that appertains to it, Mr. 
Lord is ignorant in the extreme. We doubt if he can 
tdl the difference between a dactyl and an anapa^. 

134 



W. Lord 



In fhe heroic (lamUc) pentameter he is continually 
introdndng such verBes as these: 

A flint wymghoDj to heaven ascendioa. 

Ho heart of lore, O God, Xnfinite One. 

Of a thoaaht as weak aa aspiration. 

Who were the oriainal priests of this. 

Of grace, magnificence, and power. 

0*erwhelni me; this darkness tliat shuts ont the sky. 

Alexandrines, in the same metre, are enconntered 
at every step; but it is very dear from the points at 
^irtiich they are met, and at wliich the caesura is placed, ' 
that Kr. Lord has no idea of employing them as Alex- 
andrines: they are merely excessive, that is to say, 
defective, pentameters. In a word, judging by his 
rhythm, we might suppose that the poet could neither 
see, hear, nor make use of Ids fingers. We do not 
know, in America, a versifier so utterly wretched and 
contemptible. 

Bis most extraordinary sins, however, are in pohit of 
KngjHsh. Here is his dedication, embodied in the very 
first page of the book: 

** To Professor Albert B. Dod, These Poems, the off- 
spring of an Earnest (if ineffectual) Desire toward the 
True and Beautiful, which were hardly my own by 
Paternity, when they became his by Adoption, are in- 
scribed, with all Reverence and Affection by the 
Author.*' 

^35 



William W. Lord 



What is anybody to make of all this ? What is the 
meaning of a <* desire toward t ^ — and is it the *' T^ue 
and Beautiful '' or the ** Poems '* which were hardly 
Mr« Lord's *' own by paternity before they became his 
(Mr. Dod's) by adoption.'' 

At page 12 we read: 

Think, heedleM one, or wbo with wanton step 
Tmx^mB the flowen. 

At page 75, within the compass of deren lines, we 
have three of the grossest blunders: 

O Thon for whom as in thyself Thou art. 
And by thyself perceived, we know no name, 
Nor dare not seek to express — but unto us, 
Adonail who before the heavens were built 
Or Earth's foundation laid, within thyself. 
Thine own most glorious habitation dwtllf 
But when within the abyss. 
With sudden light iUuminated, 
Thou, thine image to behold, 
Into its quickened depths 
Looked down with brooding eyel 

At page 79 we read: 

But ahl my heart, unduteous to my will. 
Breathes only sadness: like an instrument 

From whose quick strings, when hands devoid of skin 
Solicit joy, they murmur and lament. 

At page 86 is something even grosser than this: 

136 



William W. Lord 



And sdll and impt aa picturad saint might be, 
Uke Bdni^Uke aaemad as htr iha did adore. 

At page 129 there is a atmilar error: 

With half-doaed eyei and ntfBed feathen known 
As tbem that fly not with the ^^•"g'**g year. 

At page 128 we find: 

And then didst dwell therein so tmly loved 
As none have been nor shall be loved again. 
And yet p e rcth td not, etc. 

At page 155 we have: 

Bat yet it may not, cannot be 

That thou at length AaCft sunk to rest 

IiiYariably Mr. Lord writes << didst** ««did'st**; 
^ couldst '* *' could'sty*' etc. The fact is, he is absurdly 
ignorant of the commonest prindples of grammar, and 
the only excuse we can make to our readers for annoy- 
ing them with specifications in this respect is that, 
without the specifications, we should never have been 
believed. 

But enough of this folly. We are heartily tired of 
the book, and thoroughly disgusted with the impu- 
dence of the parties who have been aiding and abetting 
in thrusting it before the public To the poet himself 
we have only to say, from any further specimens of 
your stufudity, good Lord deliver ust 



137 



Some Secrets of the Magazine 
Prison-House 



> ■ ^HP want of an International Copyri^it Law, 
vjf^ by rendering It neariy impoBsible to obtain 
i«*^ I anything from the booksellers in the way 
of remuneration for literary labor, has had the effect 
of forcing many of our best writers into the service of 
the magazines and reviews, which, \rith a pertinacity 
tiiat does them credit, keep up in a certain or uncer- 
tain degree the good old saying, tiiat even in the thank- 
less field of letters the laborer is worthy of his hire. 
How — by dint of what dogged instinct of the honest 
and proper — these journals have contrived to persist in 
thur paying practices, in the very teeth of the oppo^- 
lion got up by the Fosters and Leonard Scotts, who 
furnish for eight dollars any four of the British peri- 
odicals for a year, is a point we have bad much diffi- 
culty in settiing to our satisfaction, and we have been 
forced to settie it at last upon no more reasonable 
i3« 



The Magazine Prison-House 

ground fhan that of a still lingering caprti de patrie, 
That magazines can live, and not only live but thrive, 
and not only thrive but afford to disburse money for 
original contributions, are facts which can only be 
solved, under the circumstances, by the really fanci- 
ful, but still agreeable, supposition that there is some- 
wbiae still eristing an ember not altogether quenched 
among the fires of good feeling for letters and literary 
men that once animated the American bosom. 

It would not do (perhaps this is the idea) to let our 
poor-devil authors absolutely starve while we grow 
fat, in a literary sense, on the good things of which we 
unblushing^y pick the pocket of all Europe ; it would 
not be exactly the thing eomme U taut to permit a 
positive atrocity of this kind; and hence we have 
magazines, and hence we have a portion of the public 
who subscribe to these magazines (through sheer pity), 
and hence we have magazine publishers (who some- 
times take upon themselves the duplicate title of 
'* editor and proprietor ") — ^publishers, we say, who, 
under certain conditions of good conduct, occasional 
puffs, and decent subserviency at all times, make it a 
point of conscience to encourage the poor-devil author 
with a dollar or two, more or less, as he behaves him- 
self properly and abstains from the indecent habit of 
turning up his nose. 

We hope, however, that we are not so prejudiced or 
so vindictive as to insinuate that ^diat certainly does 

139 



The Magazine Prison-House 

look like illibendity on the port of tbaa (the imiptritift 
pttbliahen) is really an illibendity chaxgieable to thenu 
In facti it will be seen at once Hmt what we have said 
has a tendency directly tiie reverse of any soch accusa- 
tion* These publishers pay something; other pub- 
lishers nothing at alL Here certainly is a difference, 
although a mathematician mi^^t contend that the dif- 
ference might be infinitesinially smalL StQl, these 
magazine editors and proprietors pay (that is the 
word), and with your true poor-devil author the small- 
est favors are sure to be thankfully received. No: 
the illiberality Ues at the door of the demagogue-ridden 
public, who suffer their anointed delegates (or, per- 
haps, arointed — ^which is it ?) to insult the common 
sense of them (the public) by making orations in our 
national halls on the beauty and conveniency of rob- 
bing the Literary Europe on the highway, and on the 
gross absurdity in especial of admitting so unprincipled 
a principle that a man has any right and title either 
to his own brains or to the flimsy material that he 
chooses to spin out of them, like a confounded cater- 
pillar as he is. If anything of this gossamer charac^ 
ter stands in need of protection, why, we have our 
hands full at once with the silk-worms and the moras 

mulHeauUB, 

But if we cannot, under the circumstances, complain 
of the absolute illiberality of the magazine publishers 
(since pay they do), there is at least one particular in 

140 



The Magazine Prison-House 

^^ch we have against them good grounds of accusa- 
tion. Why (since pay they must) do they not pay 
with a good grace and promptly ? Were we in an ill- 
humor at this moment we could a tale unfold which 
would erect the hair on the head of Shylock. A young 
author, struggling with despair itself in the shape of 
a ghastly poverty which has no alleviation, no sym- 
pathy from an every-day world that cannot under- 
stand his necessities, and that would pretend not to 
understand them if it comprehended them ever so well, 
— this young author is politely requested to compose 
an article, for which he will " be handsomely paid." 
Enraptured, he neglects, perhaps for a month, the sole 
employment which affords him the chance of a liveli- 
hood, and, having starved through the month (he and 
his family), completes at length the month of starva- 
tion and the article, and despatches the latter, with a 
broad hint about the former, to the pursy " editor " 
and bottle-nosed ** proprietor '' who has condescended 
to honor him (the poor devil) with his patronage. A 
month (starving still), and no reply. Another month, 
— still none. Two months more, — still none. A sec- 
ond letter, modestly hinting that the article may not 
have reached its destination; still no reply. At the 
expiration of six additional months, personal applica- 
tion is made at the ** editor's " and ** proprietor's " 
office. Call again. The poor devil goes out, and does 
not fail to call again. Still call again; and call again 

141 



Some Secrets of the Magazine 
Prison-House 

I want of an International Copyti^t Law, 
by rendering it nearly impossible to obtain 
anything from the bookselleis in the way 
of remuneration for literary labor, has had the eftect 
of forcing many of our best writers into the serrice of 
the maga Tines and reviews, iriiich, with a pertinaci^ 
that does them credit, keep up in a certain or uncer- 
tain degree the good old saying, that even in the thank- 
less field of letters the laborer is worthy of hia hire. 
How — by dint of what dogged instinct of Uie honest 
and proper — these journals have contrived to persist in 
their paying practices, in the very teeth of the opposi- 
tion got up by the Fosters and Leonard Scotts, who 
furnish for eight dollars any four of the British peri- 
odicals for a year, is a point we have had much diffi- 
cult in settling to our satisfaction, and we have been 
forced to settle it at last upon no more reasonable 



Mr, Longfellow and Other 
Plagiarists 

A VSSCVSSIOV WITH " OUTIS " 

ISSnOR the Bnniag Mirror of January 14, (1846), 
,IHU' before my editorial connection with the 
^' HI Broadway Joumai I furnished a brief criti- 
dsm on Professor Longfellow's Vaif. In the course 
of my observations, I collated a poem called The 
DeatboBed, and written by Hood, with one 1^ Mr. 
Aldrich, entitied A Deatb^Bed, The critidsm ended 
thus: 

** We conclude oar notes on the Waif with the ob- 
servation tiliat, although full of beanties, it is infected 
with a moral taint — or is this a mere freak of our own 
fan^? We shall be pleased if it be so; but there 
does iqipear, in this little volume, a very careful avcdd- 
ance of all American poets who nuy be supposed espe- 
cially to interfere with the claims of Mr. Longfellow. 
These men Mr. Longfellow can continuously imitate 
"43 



Some Secrets of the Magazine 
Prison-House 

I want of an International Copyiis^t Law* 
by rendering it nearly impossible to obtain 
anything from the booksellers in Uie way 
of remuneration for literary labor, has had the effect 
of forcing many of our best writers into the service of 
the magazines and reriews, which, with a pertinacity 
that does them credit, keep ap in a certain or uncer- 
tain degree the good old saying, that even in the thank- 
less field of letters the laborer is worthy of his hire. 
How — by dint of what dogged instinct of Hie honest 
and proper — these journals have contrived to persist in 
their paying practices, in the very teeth of the oppo^- 
tion got up by the Fosters and Leonard Scotts, who 
furnish for eight dollars any four of the British peri- 
odicals for a year, is a point we have had much diffi- 
culty in settling to our satisfaction, and we have been 
forced to settle it at last upon no more reasonable 
»38 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

anything of Lowell's, for example, into a collection of 
waifs would be a particular liberty with pieces which 
are all collected and christened.'' 

Not yet content, or misunderstanding the tenor of 
some of the wittily-put comments which accompanied 
the quotation, the aggrieved poet, through one of the 
two friends as before, or perhaps through a third, fi- 
nally prevailed on the good nature of Mr. Willis to 
publish an explicit declaration of his disagreement with 
^ all the disparagement of Longfellow " which had 
appeared in the criticism in question. 

Now, when we consider that many of the points of 
censure made by me in this critique were absolutely 
as plain as the nose upon Mr. Longfellow's face, that 
it was impossible to gainsay them, that we defied him 
and his coadjutors to say a syllable in reply to them, 
and that they held their tongues and not a syllable 
said, — ^wfaen we consider all this, I say, then the satire 
of the '* all " in Mr. Willis's manifesto becomes ap- 
parent at once. Mr. Longfellow did not see it ; and I 
presume his friends did not see it. I did. In my 
mind's eye it expanded itself thus : ** My dear sir, or 
sirs, what will you have ? You are an insatiable set 
of cormorants, it is true; but if you will only let me 
know what you desire, I will satisfy you, if I die for 
It Be quick! — ^merely say what it is you wish me to 
admit, and (for the sake of getting rid of you) I will 

VOL. WU U K K lAK 



[ 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

admit it upon the spot. Cornel I will grant at once 
that Mr. Longfellow is Jupiter Tonans, and that his 
three friends are the Graces, or the Furies, wbiehever 
you please. As for a fault to be found with either of 
you, that is impossible, and I say so. I disagree with 
all — ^with every syllable— of the disparagement that 
ever has been whispered against you up to this date, 
and (not to stand upon trifles) with all that ever shall 
be whispered against you henceforward, forever and 
forever. May I hope at length that these assurances 
will be sufficient ? '' But if Mr. ITillis reaUy hoped 
anything of the kind he was mistaken. 

In the meantime Mr. Briggs, in the Broadway Jota^ 
naif did me the honor of taking me to task for what 
he supposed to be my insinuations against Mr. Aldrich. 
My reply (in the Mirror) f prefaced by a few words from 
Mr. Willis, ran as follows: 

" Much interest has been given in our literary circles 
of late to the topic of plagiarism. About a month ago 
a very eminent critic connected with this paper took 
occasion to point out a parallelism between certain 
lines of Thomas Hood and certain others which ap- 
peared in the collection of American poetry edited by 
Mr. Griswold. Transcribing the passages, he ventured 
the assertion that ** somebody is a thief.'' The matter 
had been nearly forgotten, if not altogether so, when 
a 'good-natured friend' of the American author 

146 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

(^ose name had by us never been mentioned) con- 
sidered it advisable to re-collate the passages, with the 
view of convincing the pubUc (and himself) that no 
plagiarism is chargeable to the party of whom he 
thinks it chivalrous to be the ' good-natured friend.' 
For our own part, should we ever be guilty of an indis- 
cretion of this kind, we deprecate all aid from our 
'good-natured friends'; but in the meantime it is 
rendered necessary that once again we give publicity 
to the collation of poems in question. Mr. Hood's 
lines run thus : 

We watched her breathing through the night, 

Her breathing soft and low, 
As in her breast the wave of life 

Kept heaving to end fro. 

So silently we seemed to speak. 

So slowly moved about. 
As we had lent her helf our powers 

To eke her being out. 

Our very hopes belied our fsars; 

Our fears our hopes belied; 
We thought her dying when she slept. 

And sleeping when she died. 

But when the mom came dim and sad. 

And chill with early showers. 
Her quiet eyelids closed; — she had 

Another mom than ours. 

Mr. Aldrich's thus: 

147 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

admit it upon the spot. Cornel I will grant at once 
that Mr. Longfellow is Jupiter Tonans, and that his 
three friends are the Graces, or the Furies, whichever 
you please. As for a fault to be found with either of 
you, that is impossible, and I say so. I disagree with 
all — ^with every syllable — of the disparagement that 
ever has been whispered against you up to this date, 
and (not to stand upon trifles) with all that ever shall 
be whispered against you henceforward, forever and 
forever. May I hope at length that these assurances 
wiU be sufficient ? " But if Mr. Willis reaUy hoped 
anything of the kind he was mistaken. 

In the meantime Mr. Briggs, in the Broadway Jowr^ 
nalt did me the honor of taking me to task for what 
he supposed to be my insinuations against Mr. Aldrich. 
My reply (in the Mirror), prefaced by a few words from 
Mr. Willis, ran as follows: 

'' Much interest has been given in our literary circles 
of late to the topic of plagiarism. About a month ago 
a very eminent critic connected with this paper took 
occasion to point out a parallelism between certain 
lines of Thomas Hood and certain others which ap- 
peared in the collection of American poetry edited by 
Mr. Griswold. Ttanscribing the passages, he ventured 
the assertion that " somebody is a thief." The matter 
had been nearly forgotten, if not altogether so, when 
a 'good-natured friend' of the American author 

146 



Mn Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

(^ose name had by us never been mentioned) con- 
sidered it advisable to re-coUate the passages, with the 
view of convincing the public (and himself) that no 
plagiarism is chargeable to the party of whom he 
thinks it chivalrous to be the ' good-natured friend.' 
For our own part, should we ever be guilty of an indis- 
cretion of this kind, we deprecate all aid from our 
'good-natured friends'; but in the meantime it is 
rendered necessary that once again we give publicity 
to the collation of poems in question. Mr. Hood's 
lines run thus: 

We watched her breathing through the night, 

Her breathing soft and low, 
As in her breast the wave of life 

Kept healing to and fro. 

So silently we seemed to speak, 

So slowly moved about. 
As we had lent her half onr powers 

To eke her being out. 

Our very hopes belied onr fears; 

Onr fears our hopes belied; 
We thought her dying when she slept. 

And sleeping when she died. 

But when the mom came dim and sad. 

And chill with early showers. 
Her quiet eyelids closed; — she had 

Another mom than ours. 

Kr. Aldrich'sthus: 

147 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

admit it upon tiie spot Cornel I will grant at once 
that Mr. Longfellow is Jupiter Tonans, and that his 
three friends are the Graces, or the PorieSi ^riiichever 
you please. As for a f anlt to be found with either of 
yon, that is impossiUe, and I say so. I disagree with 
all — ^with every s^laUe — of the disparagement that 
ever has been whisp«:ed against you up to this date, 
and (not to stand upon trifles) mth all that ever shall 
be whisp«:ed against you henceforward, forever and 
forever. Kay I hope at length that these assurances 
will be sufficient ? " But if Mr. Willis reaUy hoped 
anything of the kind he was mistaken. 

In the meantime Mr. Briggs, in the Broadway Jour^ 
nai did me the honor of taking me to task for what 
he supposed to be my insinuations against Mr. Aldrich. 
My reply (in the JlfiSrroi*)^ prefaced by a few words from 
Mr. Willis, ran as follows: 

**Much interest has been given in our literary circles 
of late to the topic of plagiarism. About a month ago 
a very eminent critic connected with this paper took 
occasion to point out a parallelism between certain 
lines of Thomas Hood and certain others which ap- 
peared in the collection of American poetry edited by 
Mr. Griswold. Transcribing the passages, he ventured 
the assertion that " somebody is a thief.'' The matter 
had been nearly forgotten, if not altogether so, when 
a 'good-natured friend' of the American author 

146 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

(^ose name had by xm never been mentioned) con- 
adered it advisable to re-collate the passages, with the 
view of convincing the public (and himself) that no 
plagiarism is chargeable to the party of whom he 
thinks it chivalrous to be the ' good-natured friend.' 
For our own part, should we ever be guilty of an indis- 
cretion of this kind, we deprecate all aid from our 
'good-natured friends'; but in the meantime it is 
rendered necessary that once again we give publicity 
to the collation of poems in question. Mr. Hood's 
lines run thus : 

We wfttchad her breathing through the night. 

Her breethlng soft and low. 
As in her breast the wmve of life 

Kept heaving to and fro. 

So silently we seemed to speak, 

So slowly moved about. 
As we had lent her half our powers 

To eke her bemg out. 

Our very hopes belied our fears; 

Our fears our hopes belied; 
We thought her dying when she slept, 

And sleeping when she died. 

But when the mom came dim and sad, 

And chUl with early showers. 
Her quiet eyelids closed; — she had 

Another mom than ours. 

lb. Aldrich's thus: 

147 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

Her raff eringg ended with the day. 

Yet lived the at its dose. 
And breathed the long, long night away 

In statue-like repose; 

But when the son in all its state 

Illumed the eastern skies, 
She passed through Glory's morning gate. 

And walked in paradise. 

"And herei to be sure, we might well leave a dedsion 
in the case to the verdict of common sense. But since 
the Broadway Journal insists upon the ' no resem- 
blance,' we are constrained to point out especially 
where our supposed similarity lies. In the first place, 
then, the subject in both pieces is death. In the sec- 
ond, it is the death of a woman. In the third, it is the 
death of a woman tranquilly dying. In the fourth, it 
is the death of a woman who lies tranquilly through- 
out the night In the fifth, it is the death of a woman 
whose * breathing soft and low is watched through the 
night,' in one instance, and who ' breathed the long, 
long night away in statue-like repose ' in the other. 
In the sixth place, in both poems this woman dies just 
at daybreak. In the seventh place, dying just at day- 
break, this woman, in both cases, steps directly into 
paradise. In the eighth place, all these identities of 
circumstance are related in identical rhythms. In the 
ninth place, these identical rhythms are arranged in 
identical metres; and, in the tenth place, these identical 

148 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

xhythms and metres are constructed into identical 



At this point the matter rested for a fortnight, when 
a fourth friend of Mr. Longfellow tools up the cudgels 
for him and Mr* Aldrich conjointly, in another com- 
munication to the Mirror, I copy it in full: 

*' Plagiarism.— I^ai* ir/Z2for-Fair play is a jewel, 
and I hope you will let us have it. I have been much 
amused by some of the efforts of your critical friend 
to convict Longfellow of imitation, and Aldrich and 
others of plagiarism. What is plagiarism? And 
what constitutes a good ground for the charge ? Did 
no two men ever think alike without stealing one from 
the other ? or, thinking alike, did no two men ever 
use the same, or similar words, to convey the thoughts, 
and that, without any communication with each 
other ? To deny it would be absurd. It is a thing of 
every-day occurrence. Some years ago a letter was 
written from some part of New England, describing 
one of those scenes, not very common during ^diat is 
called * the January thaw,' when the snow, min^^ed 
with rain, and freezing as it falls, forms a perfect cov- 
ering of ice upon every object. The storm dears away 
suddenly and the moon comes up. The letter proceeds : 
' Every tree and shrub, as far as the eye can reach, of 
pure transparent glass — a perfect garden of moving, 
waving, breathing crystals. • . • Every tree is a 

149 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

diamond chandelier, with a whole constellation of stan 
clustering to every socket,' etc. This letter was laid 
away where such things usually are, in a private 
drawer, and did not see the light for many years. But 
the very next autumn brought out, among the splendid 
annuals got up in the country, a beautiful poem from 
Whittier, describing the same, or rather a similar 
scene, in which the Une 

The trees, like crystal chandeliers, 

was put in italics by every reviewer in the land, for the 
exceeding beauty of the imagery. Now the letter was 
written, probably, about the same time with the poem, 
though the poem was not published till nearly a year 
after. The writers were not, and never have been^ 
acquainted with each other, and neither could possibly 
have seen the work of the other before writing. Now, 
was there any plagiarism here ? Yet there are 
plenty of * identities.' The author of the letter, when 
urged, some years after, to have it published, con- 
sented very reluctantly, through fear that he should 
be charged with theft ; and, very probably, the charge 
has been made, though I have never seen it. Hay not 
this often occur ? What is more natural ? Images 
are not created, but suggested. And why not the same 
images, when the circumstances are precisely the 
same to different minds? Perhaps your critic will 
reply, that the case is different after one of the com- 

ISO 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

positioiis is publiflhed. How so ? Does he or you or 
anybody read eveiything that is published ? I am a 
great admirer, and a general reader of poetry. But, 
by what accident I do not know, I had never seen the 
beautiful lines of Hood till your critical friend brought 
them to my notice in the Mirror It is certainly pos- 
sible that Aldrich had not seen them several years ago, 
and more than probable that Hood had not seen Al* 
drich's. Yet your friend affects great sympathy for 
both, in view ci their bitter compunctions of con- 
adencei for their literary piracies. 
" But, after all, wherein does the real resemblance 

between these two compositions consist ? Mr. 

(I had almost named him) finds nearly a dozen points 
of resemblance. But when he includes rhythm, metre, 
and stanza amcmg the dozen, he only shows a bitter 
resolution to make out a case and not a disposition to 
do impartial justice. Surely the critic himself, who is 
one of our finest poets, does not mean to deny that 
these mere externals are the common property of all 
bards. He does not feel it necessary to strike out a 
new stanza, or to invent new feet and measures, when- 
ever he would clothe his * breathing thoughts in words 
that bum.' Again, it is not improbable that, within 
the period of time since these two writers. Hood and 
Aldrich, came on the stage, ten thousand females have 
died, and died tranquilly, and died just at daybreak, 
and that after passing a tranquil night, and, so dying, 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

were supposed by their friends to have passed at once 
to a better world, a morning in heaven. The poets 
are both describing an actual, and not an imaginary, 
occurrence. And here, including those before men- 
tioned, which are common property, are nine of the 
critic's identities, which go to make up the evidence of 
plagiarism. The last six, it requires no stretch of 
imagination to suppose, they might each have seen 
and noticed separately. The most of them, one other 
poet at least, has noticed, many years ago, in a beauti- 
ful poem on these words of the angel to the wrestling 
Jacob, * Let me go, for the day breaketh.' Wonder 
if Hood ever saw that ? The few remaining * iden- 
tities ' are, to my mind, suffidenfly disposed of by 
what I have already said. I confess I was not aUe, 
until the appearance of the critic's second paper, in 
which he brought them out specially, * marked, num- 
bered, and labelled,' to perceive the resemblance on 
which the grave chai^ of literary piracy and moral 
dishonesty of the meanest Idnd was based. In view of 
all the i^iaring improbabilities of such a case, a critic 
should be very slow to make such a charge. I say 
glaring improbabilities, for it seems to me that no cir- 
cumstantial evidence could be sufficient to secure a 
verdict of theft in such a case. Look at it. A man 
who aspires to fame, who seeks the esteem and praise 
of the worid and lives upon his reputation as his vital 
element, attempts to win his object — ^how ? By steal- 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

ing, in open day, the finest passages, the most beauti- 
ful thoughts (no others are worth stealing), and the 
rarest images of another, and claiming them as his 
own; and that, too, when he knows that every com- 
petitor for fame, and every critical tribunal in the 
world, as well as the real owner, will be ready to iden- 
tify the borrowed plumes in a moment, and cry him 
down as a thief. A madman, an idiot, if he were capa- 
aUe of such an achievement, might do it, but no other. 
A rogue may steal what he can conceal in his pocket 
or his chest ; but one must be utterly non compos, to 
steal a splendid shawl or a magnificent plume, which 
had been admired by thousands for its singular beauty, 
for the purpose of sporting it in Broadway. In nine 
hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand, such 
charges are absurd, and indicate rather the carping 
littleness of the critic than the delinquency of his 
victim. 

** Pray, did you ever think the worse of Dana because 
your friend, John Neal, charged him with pirating 
upon Paul Allen, and Bryant, too, in his poem of * THE 
DYING RAVEN ? ' or of yourself, because the same 
friend thought he had detected you in the very act of 
stealing from Pinckney and Miss Francis, now Mrs. 
Child ? Surely not Everybody knows that John Neal 
wishes to be supposed to have read everything that ever 
was written, and never had forgotten anything. He 
delights, therefore, in showing up such resemblances. 

153 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

'* And now — ^f or the matter of Longfellow's imita- 
tions. In what do they consist? The critic is not 
▼ery specific in this chai^. Of what kind are they ? 
Are they imitations of thought ? Why not call them 
plagiarisms then, and show them up ? Or are they 
only verbal imitations of style ? Perhaps this is one 
of them, in his poem on the Sea Weedt 



drifting, dxifting, dzifdng 
On the shiftipg 
Cuzrents of the restlesB nudn, 

resembling, in form and collocation only, a line in a 
beautiful and very powerful poem of Mr. Edgar A. 
Poe. (Write it rather Edgar, a Poet, and then it is 
right to a T.) I have not the poem before me, and 
have forgotten its title. But he is describing a mag- 
nificent intellect in ruins, if I remember rightly, and, 
speaking of the eloquence of its better days, represents 
it as 

flowing, flowing, flowing 
like a river. 

Is this what the critic means ? Is it such imitations 
as this that he alludes to ? If not, I am at fault, either 
in my reading of Longfellow, or in my general familiar- 
ity with the American poets. If this be the kind of 
imitation referred to, permit me to say the charge is 
too paltry for any man, who valued his reputation 
either as a gentleman or a scholar, to make* Who, 

154 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

for example, would wish to be guilty of the littleness of 
detracting from the uncommon merit of that remark- 
able poem of this same Mr. Poe's, recently published in 
the Mirror, from the American Reriew, entitled The 
Raven, by charging him with the paltriness of imita- 
tion ? And yet some snarling critic, who might envy 
the reputation he had not the genius to secure for him- 
self, might refer to the frequent, very forcible, but 
rather quaint repetition, in the last two lines of many 
tA the stanzas, as a palpable imitation of the manner 
of Coleridge, in several stanzas of The Ancient MarL^ 
ntr0 Let me put them together. Mr. Poe says : 

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore, 
Let my heart be stUl a moment and this mystery explore* 

And again: 

It shaU clasp a sainted maiden, whom the angels name 

Lenore — 
Gasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name 

Lenoxe. 

Mr. Coleridge says (running two lines into one) : 

For aU averred I had killed the Urd, that made the hreeze to 

Uow. 
^ Ah, wretchi '' said they, ** the Urd to slay, that made the 

hreeze to Uow." 

And again: 

They all averred I had MUed the Urd, that hronght the fog and 
mist. 

155 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

<< rr WM right,'' Mdd they, '* msch biids to sUy, that bring the 
fog and mist/' 

** I have before me an anonymotis poem, which I 
first saw some five years ago, entitled The Bird of ibe 
DreanL I should like to transcribe the whole, but it 
is too long. The author was awakened from sleep 
by the song of a beautiful bird, sitting on the sill of 
his window; the sweet notes had mingled with his 
dreams, and brought to his remembrance the sweeter 
voice of his lost * Clare.' He says: 

And thou wert In my dream — a spirit thou didst seem — 

The spirit of a friend long since departed; 
Oh I she was fair and bright, but she left me one dark night — 

She left me all alone, and broken-hearted. . . . 

My dream went on, and thou went a-warbling too, 
Mingling the harmonies of earth and heaven; 

Till away — away — away — ^beyond the realms of day — 
My angel Clare to my embrace was given. . . . 

Sweet bird from realms of light, oh I come again to-night. 
Come to my window — ^perch upon my chair — 

Come give me back again that deep impassioned strain 
That tells me thou hast seen and loved my Clare. 

** Now, I shall not charge Mr. Poe with plagiarism, 
for, as I have said, such charges are perfectly absurd. 
Ten to one he never saw this before. But let us look 
at the * identities ' that may be made out between 
this and The RareiL First, in each case, the poet is 
a broken-hearted lover. Second, that lover longs for 

156 



Mr. Lrongfellow and Other Plagiarists 

some hereafter communion with the departed. Third, 
there is a bird. Fourth, the bird is at the poet's win- 
dow. Fifth, the bird, being at the poet's window, 
makes a noise. Sixth, making a noise, attracts the 
attention of the poet, who, seventh, was half asleep, 
dosing, dreaming. Eighth, the poet invites the bird 
to come in. Ninth, a confabulation ensues. Tenth, 
the bird is supposed to be a visitor from the land of 
spirits. Eleventh, allusion is made to the departed. 
Twelfth, intimation is given that the bird knew some- 
thing of the departed. Thirteenth, that he knew her 
worth and loveliness. Fourteenth, the bird seems 
willing to linger with the poet Fifteenth, there is a 
repetition, in the second and fourth lines, of a part, 
and that the emphatic part, of the first and third. 
Here is a round baker's-dozen (and two to spare) of 
identities, to offset the dozen found between Aldrich 
and Hood, and that, too, without a word of rhythm, 
metre, or stanza, which should never form a part of 
such a comparison. Moreover, this same poem con- 
tains an example of that Idnd of repetition, which I 
have supposed the critic meant to chai^ upon Long- 
fellow as one of his imitations: 



Away — away — away, etc 

« I might pursue it further. But I will not Such 
criticisms only make the author of them contemptible, 
without soiling a plume in the cap of his victim. I 

IS7 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 



have selected this poem of Mr. Poe's for i] 
my remarks because it is recent, and must be familiar 
to all the lovers of true poetry hereabouts. It is re- 
markable for its power, beauty, and originality (out 
upon the automaton owl that has presumed to croak 
out a miserable parody — ^I commend him to the tender 
mercies of Haynes Bayley ') and shows, more forcibly 
than any which I can think of, the absurdity and shal- 
lowness of this kind of criticism. One word more: 
though acquainted with Mr. Longfellow, I have never 
seen Mr. Aldrich, nor do I even know in what part of 
the country he resides; and I have no acquaintance 
with Mr. Poe. I have written what I have written 
with no personal motives, but simply because, from 
my earliest reading of reviews and critical notices, I 
have been disgusted with this wholesale mangling of 
victinois without rhyme or reason. I scarcely remem- 
ber an instance where the resemblances detected were 
not exceedingly far-fetched and shadowy, and only 
perceptible to a mind predisposed to suspicion and 
accustomed to splitting hairs. Ouns." 

What I admire in this letter is the gentiemanly grace 
of its manner and the chivalry which has prompted its 
composition. What I do not admire is all the rest 
In especial, I do not admire the desperation of the 
effort to make out a case. No gentieman should de- 

* I wonU be a Pvody, written liy a nlimy, 
Sot worth a p«iiiy, and lold for a guiaea, ete. 

iS8 






i " •*' ! )Ij \ 



. I > 



^ I 



^ 



t: . j'. il- 

.•'. 1 ■. ■ :t nrvrr 

. .«: .vhat part ••? 

• .1 'fUaijitance 

The Donwin of Arnl^^g^.^ ^„..^^, 

*Dii finer the forenoon he l>asSediilBl^cec|pK:tJta)StyOt]%>|^n 

'' * 1* a! notices, I 

.e manglijig ■• 

1 M -rcelv remeo'i 

es dr^e* ted wer*» 

; A'y, and o:-.'\ 

r* • 1 l(» suspiciim ar.J 

• • — ::tl<rmdnly ^ra- ■■ 

"* * • ■ .' . h.i.s proinnied .' 

.0 !•> all the F' . 
1 . 



t • 



/"» tdn of : 



*• ' ' rn ill sh . :.1 

• • . "V, 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

grade himself , on any grotindsi to the paltriness of ex^ 
parte argument; and I shall not insult Outis at the 
outset by assuming for a moment that he (Outis) is 
weak enough to suppose me (Poe) silly enough to look 
upon all this abominable rigmarole as anything better 
than a very respectable specimen of special pleading. 

As a general rule in a case of this kind| I should wish 
to begin with the beginning^ but as I have been tm- 
able, in running my eye over Outis's remarks, to dis- 
cover that they have any beginning at all, I shall be 
pardoned for touching them in the order which suits 
me best. Outis need not have put himself to the 
trouble of informing his readers that he has ** some 
acquaintance with Mr. Longfellow." It was needless, 
also, to mention that he did not know me. I thank 
him for his many flatteries, but of their inconsistency 
I complain. To speak of me in one breath as a poet, 
and in the next to insinuate charges of ** carping littie- 
ness " is simply to put forth a flat paradox. When a 
plagiarism is committed and detected, the word ** littie- 
ness " and other similar words are immediately brought 
into play. To the words themselves I have no objec- 
tion whatever; but their application might occasion- 
ally be improved. 

Is it altogether impossible that a critic be instigated 
to the exposure of a plagiarism or, still better, of 
plagiarism generally wherever he meets it, by a strictiy 
honorable and even charitable motive ? Let us see. 

IS9 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 



A theft of this kind is committed — ^for the present we 
will admit the possibility that a theft of this character 
can be committed. The chances, of coursei are that 
an established author steals from an miknown one, 
rather than the conyerse, for in proportion to the cir- 
culation of the original is the risk of the plagiarism's 
detection. The person about to commit the theft 
hopes for impunity altogether on the ground of the 
reconditeness of the source from which he thieves. 
But this obvious consideration is rarely borne in mind. 
We read a certain passage in a certain book. We 
meet a passage neariy similar in another book. The 
first book is not at hand, and we cannot compare dates. 
We decide by what we fancy the probabilities of the 
case. The one author is a distinguished man— -our 
sympathies are always in favor of distinction. ** It is 
not likely," we say in our hearts, *' that so distin- 
guished a personage as A would be guilty of plagiar- 
ism from this B of whom nobody in the world has 
ever heard.'' We give judgment, therefore, at once 
against B, of whom nobody in the world has ever 
heard ; and it is for the very reason that nobody in the 
world has ever heard of him that, in ninety-nine cases 
out of the hundred, the judgment so precipitously 
given is erroneous. Now, then, the plagiarist has not 
merely committed a wrong in itself, a wrong whose 
incomparable meanness would deserve exposure on 
absolute grounds, but he, the guilty, the successful, the 

i6o 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 



eminent, has fastened the degradation of his crimei 
the retribution which should have overtaken it in his 
own person, upon the guiltless, the toiling, the un- 
friended struggler up the mountainous path of fame. 
Is not sympathy for the plagiarist, then, about as saga- 
cious and about as generous as would be sympathy for 
the murderer whose exultant escape from the noose of 
the hangman should be the cause of an innocent man's 
being hung ? And because I, for one, should wish to 
throttle the guilty with the view of letting the innocent 
go, could it be considered proper on the part of any 
<< acquaintance of Mr. Longfellow's " who came to 
witness the execution, — could it be thought, I say, 
dther chivalrous or decorous on the part of this ** ac- 
quaintance " to get up against me a charge of ** carp- 
ing littleness," while we stood amicably together at the 
foot of the gallows ? 

In aU this I have taken it for granted that such a sin 
as plagiarism exists. We are informed by Outis, how- 
ever, that it does not ** I shall not charge Mr. Poe 
with plagiarism,'* he says, ** for, as I have said, such 
charges are perfectly absurd." An assertion of this 
kind is certainly f tinny (I am aware of no other epithet 
which precisely applies to it) ; and I have much curi- 
osity to know if Outis is prepared to swear to its truth, 
holding aloft his rig^t hand, of course, and kissing the 
back of D'Israeli's Curiosities, or the Melanges of 
Suard and Andr<. But if the assertion is funny (and 

vouyin.— XI. j5| 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 



it i8)| it is by no means an original thing. It is pre- 
dsely, in fact, what ail the plagiarists and ail the 
'< acquaintances *' of the plagiarists mnce the flood 
have maintained with a very praiseworthy resolution. 
The attempt to prove, however, by reasoning a prlorU 
that plagiarism cannot exist is too good an idea on 
the part of Cutis not to be a plagiarism in itself. Are 
we mistaken ? — or have we seen the following words 
before in Joseph Miller, where that ingenious gentle- 
man is bent upon demonstrating that a leg of mutton 
is, and ought to be, a turnip ? 

« A man who aspires to fame, etc, attempts to win 
his object — ^how ? By stealing, in open day, the finest 
passages, the most beautiful thoughts (no others are 
worth stealing), and claiming them as his own; and 
that, too, when he knows that every competitor, etc, 
will be ready to cry him down as a tliief.*' 

Is it possible — ^is it conceivable that Outis does not 
here see the begging of the whole question ? Why, of 
course, if the theft had to be committed << in open day '' 
it would not be committed; and if the thief '^ knew *' 
that every one would cry him down, he would be too 
excessive a fool to make even a decent thief if he in- 
dulged his thieving propensities in any respect But 
he thieves at night, in the dark, and not in the open 
day (if he suspects it), and he does not know that he 
will be detected at alL Of the class of wilful plagiar 

i6a 



Mr. Lrongfellow and Other Plagiarists 

lists nine out of ten are authors of established reputa- 
tion, who plunder recondite, neglected, or forgotten 
books. 

« I Shan not accuse Mr. Poe of plagiarism,'* says 
Outis, '' for, as I have observed before, such charges 
are perfectly absurd,*' and Outis is certainly right in 
dwelling on the point that he has observed this thing 
before. It is the one original point of his essay; for 
I really believe that no one else was ever silly enou^^ 
to '^ observe it before.** 

Here is a gentleman who writes in certain respects 
as a gentleman should, and who yet has the eflErontery 
to base a defence of a friend from the charge of plagia- 
rism on the broad ground that no such thing as plagia- 
rism ever existed. I confess that to an assertion of 
this nature there is no little difficulty in getting up a 
reply. What in the woild can a man say in a case of 
this kind ? — ^he cannot, of course, give utterance to 
the first epithets that spring to his Ups; and yet what 
else shall he utter that shall not have an air of direct 
insult to the common sense of mankind? What 
could any judge on any bench in the country do but 
laugh or swear at the attorney who should begin his 
defence of a petty-larceny client with an oration 
demonstrating a priori that no such thing as petty 
larceny ever had been, or, in the nature of things, ever 
could be committed? And yet the attorney might 
make as sensible a qieech as Outis, even a more sen- 

163 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

BiUe one, — ^anything but a less senmble one. Indeed, 
muiato nomine^ he might employ Outis's identical 
words. He might say: '' In view, gentlemen of the 
jury, of all the glaring improbabilities of such a case, 
a prosecuting attorney should be very slow to make 
such a charge. I say glaring improbabilities, for it 
seems to me that no circumstantial evidence could be 
sufficient to secure a verdict of theft in such a case. 
Look at it. [Here the judge would look at the maker 
of the speech.] Look at it. A man who aspires to 
(the) fame (of being a beau), ^o seeks the esteem 
and praise of all the world (of dandies), and lives upon 
his reputation (for broadcloth) as his vital element, 
attempts to win his object — ^how ? By stealing in open 
day the finest waistcoats, the most beautiful dress- 
coats (no others are worth stealing) and the rarest 
pantaloons of another, and claiming them as his own ; 
and that, too, when he knows that every competitor 
for (the) fame (of Brummelism) and every fashion- 
plate magazine in the world, as well as the real owner, 
will be ready to identify the borrowed plumes in a 
moment and cry him down as a thief. A madman, 
an idiot, if he were capable of such an achievement, 
might do it, gentlemen of the jury, but no other." 

Vow, of course, no judge in the world ^ose sense 
of duty was not overruled by a stronger sense of the 
facetious, would permit the attorney to proceed with 
any such speech. It would never do to have the time 

164 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

of the court occupied by this gentleman's well-meant 
endeavor to show a priori the impossibility of that 
ever happening which the clerk of this same court 
could show a posteriori had been happening by wholes 
sale ever since there had been such a thing as a for- 
eign count And yet the speech of the attorney was 
really a very excellent speech, when we compare it 
with that of Outis. For the *' glaring improbability '* 
of the plagiarism is a mere nothing by the side of the 
« glaring improbability '' of the theft of the sky-Uue 
dress-coat and the yellow plaid pantaloons; we may 
take it for granted, of course, that the thief was one 
of the upper ten thousand of thieves, and would not 
have put himself to the trouble of appropriating any 
garments that were not of indisputable bon ton, and 
patronized even by Professor Longfellow himself. The 
improbability of the literary theft, I say, is really a 
mere trifle in comparison with the broadcloth larceny. 
For the plagiarist is either a man of no note or a man 
of note. In the first case, he is usually an ignoramus, 
and, getting possession of a rather rare book, plunders 
it without scruple, on the ground that nobody has ever 
seen a copy of it except himself. In the second case, 
which is a more general one by far, he pilfers from 
some poverty-stricken and therefore neglected man 
of genius, on the reasonable supposition that this 
neglected man of genius will very soon cut his throat 
or die of starvation (the sooner the better, no doubt)| 

i6s 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

and that in the meantime he will be too busy in keep- 
ing Uie wolf from the door to look after the pniioineiB 
of his property, and too poor, and too cowed, and for 
these reasons too contemptiMei under any drcam- 
stancesi to daie accuse, of so base a thing as theft, the 
wealthy and triumphant gentleman of degant leisure 
who has only done the vagabond too much honor in 
knocking him down and robbing him upon the hi|^- 
way. 

The plagiarist, then, in dther case, has very reason- 
able ground for expecting impunity, and at aU events 
it is because he thinks so that he perpetrates the 
plagiarism; but how is it with the count who steps 
into the diop of a tailor and dips under his doak the 
dcy-blue dress-coat and the yellow plaid pantaloons ? 
He, the count, would be a greater fool in these mat- 
ters than a count ever was, if he did not percrive at 
once that the chances were about nine hundred and 
ninety-nine to one that he would be caught the next 
morning before twdve o'dock, in the very first bloom 
and bludi of his promenade down Broadway, by some 
one of those offidous individuals who are continually 
on the qui vfre to catch the counts and take away 
from them their dcy-Mue coats and yeUow plaid pan- 
taloons. Tes, undoubtedly; the count is very well 
aware of all this ; but he takes into condderation that, 
although the nine hundred and ninety-nine chances 
are certainly against him, the one is just as certainly 

i66 



Mr. Lrongfellow and Other Plagiarists 

in his f ETor, that luck is eveiytliiiig, that life is short, 
that the weather is fine, and that, if he can only man- 
age to get safely through his promenade down Broad- 
way in the sky-blue dres^-coat and the yellow plaid 
pantaloons, he will enjoy the hi^^ honor, for once in 
his life at least, of being mistaken, by fifteen ladies 
out of twenty, either for Professor Longfellow or Phoe- 
bus Apollo. And this consideration is enough; the 
half of it would have been more than enou{^ to sat- 
isfy the count that, in putting the garments under his 
doak, he is doing a very sagacious and very commend- 
able thing. He steals them, then, at once and without 
scruple, and, when he is caught arrayed in them the 
next morning, he is, of course, highly amused to hear 
his counsel make an oration in court about the '^ g^- 
ing improbability '* of his having stolen them when he 
stole them, by way of showing the abstract impossi- 
bility of their ever having been stolen at all. 

'^ What is plagiarism ? '* demands Outis at the out- 
set, areetdr d'un Romain qulsauve sapatrie — ** What 
is plagiarism, and what constitutes a good ground for 
the charge?" Of course all men anticipate some- 
thing unusually happy in the way of reply to queries 
so cavemously propounded; but if so, then all men 
have forgotten, or no man has ever known, that Outis 
is a Yankee. He answers the two questions by two 
others, and perhaps this is quite as much as any one 
should expect him to do. << Did no two men," he 

167 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

saysy '' ever think alike without stealing one from the 
other; or, thinking alike, did no two men ever nae 
the same or similar words to convey the thoughts, and 
that without any communication with each other ? — 
To deny it is absurd." Of course it is, very absurd; 
and the only thing more absurd that I can call to mind 
at present is the supposition that any person ever en- 
tertained an idea of denying it But are we to under- 
stand the denying it, or the absurdity of denying it, 
or the absurdity of supporing that any person intended 
to deny it, as the true answer to the original queries ? 

But let me aid Outis to a distinct conception of his 
own irrelevance. I accuse his friend, spedflcally, of 
a plagiarism. This accusation Outis rebuts by asking 
me with a grave face, not whether the friend might 
not, in this individual case, and in the compass of 
eight short lines, have happened upon ten or twelve 
peculiar identities of thought and identities of expres- 
sion with the author from whom I charge him with 
plagiarizing, but simply whether I do not admit the 
possibility that once in the course of eternity some two 
individuals might not happen upon a single identity of 
thought, and give it voice in a single identity of ez* 
pression. 

Now, frankly, I admit the possibility in question, and 
would request my friends to get ready for me a strait- 
jacket if I did not. There can be no doubt in the 
world, for example, that Outis considers me a fool: 

i68 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

the thing is sufficiently plain; and this opinion on 
the part of Outis is what mankind have agreed to de- 
nominate an idea; and this idea is also entertained 
by Mr. Aldrich and by Mr. Longfellow, and by Mrs. 
Outis and her seven children, and by Mrs. Aldrich and 
hers, and by Mrs. Longfellow and hers — ^including the 
grandchildren and great-grandchildren, if any, who 
will be instructed to transmit the idea in unadulterated 
purity down an infinite vista of generations yet to 
come. And of this idea thus extensivdy entertained, 
it would really be a very difficult thing to vary the 
expression in any material degree. A remarkable 
similarity would be brought about, indeed, by the 
desire of the parties in question to put the thought into 
as compendious a form as possible, by way of bringing 
it to a focus at once and having done with it upon the 
spot. 

Outis will perceive, therefore, that I have every 
desire in the world to afford him that ** fair play '* 
which he considers '< a jewel,'* since I admit not only 
the possibility of the class of coincidences for which 
he contends, but even the impossibility of there not 
mwiaHtifr just as many of these coincidences as he may 
consider necessary to make out his case. One of the 
species he details as follows, at some length: 



« Some years ago, a letter was written from some 
part of New England, describing one of those scenes, 

169 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

not very common, during what is called ' the January 
tliaWy' when the snow, mingled with rain, and freez- 
ing as it falls, forms a perfect covering of ice upon 
every object The storm clears away suddenly, and 
the moon comes up. The letter proceeds: 'Every 
tree and shrub, as far as the eye can reach, of pure 
transparent glass — a perfect garden of moving, wav- 
ing, breathing crystals. • • • Every tree is a dia- 
mond chandelier, with a whole constellation of stars 
clustering to every socket,* etc This letter was laid 
away where such things usually are, in a private 
drawer, and did not see the Ught for many years. But 
the very next autumn brought out, among the splendid 
annuals got up in the country, a beautiful poem from 
Whittier, describing the same, or rather a similar 
scene, in which the line 

The tTMs, like cryBtsl chandeHefs, 

was put in italics by every reviewer in the land for the 
exceeding beauty of the imagery. Now, the letter was 
written, probably, about the same time with the poem, 
thou{^ the poem was not published till nearly a year 
after. The writers were not, and never have been, 
acquainted with each other, and neither could possibly 
have seen the work of the other before writing. Now, 
was there any plagiarism here ? " 

After the fashion of Ontis himself I shall answer his 

170 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

query by another. What has the question whether the 
chandelier friend committed a plagiarism to do with 
the question whether the death-bed friend committed 
a plagiarism, or whether it is possible or impossible 
that plagiarism, generally, can be committed ? But 
merdy for courtesy's sake, I step aside from the exact 
matter in hand. In the case mentioned I should con- 
sider material differences in the terms of description 
as more remarkable than coincidences. Since the 
tree really looked like a chandelier, the true wonder 
would have been in likening it to anything else. Of 
course, nine commonplace men out of ten would have 
maintained it to be a chandelier-looking tree. No 
poet of any pretension, however, would have com- 
mitted himself so far as to put such a similitude in 
print The chandelier might have been poetically 
likened to the crystallized tree, but the converse is 
a platitude. The gorgeous unaltered handiwork of 
nature is alway degraded by comparison with the 
tawdry gewgaws of art; and perhaps the very ugHest 
thing in the world is a chandelier. If ** every reviewer 
in the land put the passage into italics on account of 
the exceeding beauty of the imagery," then every 
printer's devil in the land should have been flogged for 
not taking it out of italics upon the spot and putting 
it in the plainest roman, which is too good for it by 
one half. 
I put no faith in the nl/ adadtari, and am apt to be 

171 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 



amazed at erary tecond thing ^rtiich I see. Qneofthe 
moat amazing things I hare yet aeen ia the comida- 
cency with ^rtdch Ootia throws to the li^t and left 
hx8 anonymona aaaertiona, taking it for granted that, 
because he (H obody ) aaserts them, I must believe them 
as a matter of cooise. However, he ia qoite in the 
right I am perfectly ready to admit anything that 
he pleases, and am prepared to put as implicit faith in 
his /jpae dEtnif as the Bishop of Autun did in the BiUe — 
on the ground that he knew nothing about it at alL 
We will understand it, then, not merely as an anony- 
mous assertion, but as an absolute fact, that the two 
chandelier authors ^ were not and never have been 
acquainted with each other, and that neither could 
have seen the work of the other before writing.*' We 
will agree to understand all this as indisputable truth, 
I say, through motives of the purest charity, for the 
purpose of assisting a friend out of trouble, and with- 
out reference to the consideration that no third person 
short of Signor Blitz or Professor Rogers could in any 
conceivable manner have satisfied himself of the truth 
of the twentieth part of it Admitting this and every- 
thing else to be as true as the Pentateuch, it follows 
that plagiarism in the case in question was a thing that 
could not by any possibility be; and do I rightly com- 
prehend Cutis as demonstrating the impossibility of 
plagiarism, where it is possible, by adducing instances 
of inevitable similarity under circumstances where it 

17a 



Mr. Longtellow and Other Plagiarists 



Ml 



is not ? Tbe fact is, that throu^^ want of space and 
time to follow Outis through the labyrinth of imper- 
tinences in idiich he is scrambling about, I am con- 
strained, much against my sense of decorum, to place 
him in the highroad of his aigument, so that he may 
see where he is, and what he is doing, and what it is 
that he is endeavoring to demonstrate. 

He wishes to show, then, that Mr. Longfellow is 
innocent of the imitation with which I have charged 
him, and that Mr. Aldrich is innocent of the plagiarism 
with which I have not charged him; and this duplicate 
innocence is expected to be proved by showing the 
possibility that a certain, or that any uncertain series 
of coincidences may be the result of pure accident. 
Now, of course, I cannot be sure that Outis will regard 
my admission as a service or a disservice, but I admit 
the possibility at once; and not only this, but I would 
admit it as a possibility were the coincidences a billion, 
and each of the most definitive peculiarity that human 
ingenuity could conceive. But in admitting this I 
admit just nothing at all, so far as the advancement 
of Outis's proper argument is concerned. The affair 
is one of probabilities altogetiier, and can be satisfac- 
torily settied only by reference to their calculus. 

<< Pray," inquires Outis of Mr. Willis, *^ did you ever 
think the worse <rf Dana because your friend John 
Neal charged him with pirating upon Paul Allen, and 
Bryant, too, in his poem of ' THE DTDfO RAVEN ?* " I 

'73 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

am sincerely disposed to give Outis his due, and will 
not pretend to deny his happy facility in asking irrele- 
vant questions. In the present case we can only 
imagine Mr. '^KHllis's reply: '^ My dear sir/' he might 
say, '^ I certainly do not think much the worse of Mr. 
Dana because Mr. Neal charged him with the piracy, 
but be so kind as not to inquire what might have been 
my opinion had there been any substantiation of the 
charge.'* I quote Outis's inquiry, however, not so 
much to insist upon its singular luminousness, as to 
call attention to the argument embodied in the capital 
letters of '' THE DYING RAVEN." 

Now, were I, in any spasm of perversity, to direct 
Outis's catechetical artillery against himself, and de- 
mand of him explicitly his reasons for causing those 
three words to be printed in capitals, what in the world 
would he do for a reply ? As a matter of course, for 
some moments he would be profoundly embarrassed; 
but, bring a true man, and a chivalrous one, as all 
defenders of Mr. Longfellow must be, he could not 
fail, in the end, to admit that they were so printed for 
the purpose of saf dy insinuating a charge which not 
even an Ontis had the impudence openly to utter. Let 
us imagine his thoughts while carefully twice under- 
scoring the words. Is it imposdUe that they ran 
thus ? — ^* I am perfectly well aware, to be sure, that 
the only conceivable resemblance between Mr. Bry- 
ant's poem and Mr. Poe*s poem lies in their common 

174 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

reference to a raven; but then, what I am writing will 
be seen by some who have not read Mr. Bryant's poem 
and by many who have never heard of Mr. Poe's, and 
among tiiese classes I shall be aUe to do Mr. Poe a 
serious injustice and injury by conveying the idea that 
tiiere is really sufficient similarity to warrant that 
charge of plagiarism which I, Outis, the ' acquaint- 
ance of Mr. Longfellow,' am too high-minded and too 
merciful to prefer." 

Now, I do not pretend to be positive that any such 
thoughts as these ever entered the brain of Outis. Nor 
will I venture to designate the whole insinuation as a 
specimen of ** carping littieness, too paltry for any 
man who values his reputation as a gentieman " : for, 
in the first place, the whole matter, as I have put it, 
is purely supposititious; and, in the second, I should 
furnish ground for a new insinuation of the same 
character, inasmuch as I should be employing Outis's 
identical words. The fact is, Outis has happened upon 
the idea that the most direct method of rebutting one 
accusation is to get up another. By showing that I 
have committed a sin, he proposes to show that Mr. 
Aldrich and Mr. Longfellow have not Leaving the 
underscored << DYING RAVEN " to argue its own case, 
he proceeds, therefore, as follows: 

'< Who, for example, would wish to be guilty of the 
littieness of detracting from the uncommon merit of 

I7S 



Mn Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

that lemaxkable poem of this same Mr. Poe% recently 
published in the Mirrott from the Amerfcan RcritWt 
entitled The Raren, by charging him with the paltri- 
ness of imitation ? And yet some snarling critic, who 
mis^t envy the reputation he had not the genius to 
secure for himself , mig^t refer to the frequent, very 
forcible, but rather quaint repetition, in the last two 
lines of many of the stanzas, as a palpable imitation 
of the manner of Coleridge, in several stanzas of The 
Aneieni Mariner, Let me put them together. Mr. 
Poesays: 

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore, 
Let my heart be stiU a moment, and this mysteiy explore. 

And again: 

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore, 
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name 
Lenore. 

Mr. Coleridge says (running two lines into one) : 

For all averred I had killed the bird, that made the breeze to 

blow. 
** Ah, wretchi " said they, *' the bird to day, that made the 

breeze to blow." 

And again: 

They all averred I had killed the Urd, that brotight the fog and 
mist. 

176 



Mr. Longfellow and Other 



** *T was right," said they, ** sach birds to day, that bring the 
fog and mist" 

The '' rather quaint " is ingenious. Fully one third 
of whatever effect The Karen has, is wrought by the 
quaintness in question — a point elaborately intro- 
duced to accomplish a well-considered purpose. What 
idea would Cutis entertain of me were I to speak of 
his defence of his friends as very decent, very respect- 
able, but rather meritorious? In the passages col- 
lated there are two points upon which the '' snarling 
critic " might base his insinuation, if ever so weak a 
'' snariing critic " existed. Of these two points one is 
purely hypothetical, that is to say, it is disingenuously 
manufactured by Mr. Longfellow's acquaintance to 
suit his own purposes, or, perhaps, the purposes of the 
imaginary ** snarling critic." The argument of the 
second point is demolished by my not only admitting 
it, but insisting upon it. Perhaps the least tedious 
mode of refuting Cutis is to acknowledge nine tenths 
of eyerything he may think proper to say. 

But, in the present instance, what am I called upon 
to acknowledge ? I am charged with imitating the 
repetition of phrase in the two concluding lines of a 
stanza, and of imitating this from Coleridge. But 
why not extend the accusation and insinuate that I 
imitate it from everybody else ? for certainly there is 
no poet living or dead who has not put in practice the 

▼OL. Till. — Ifl. 177 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 



identical effect — ^tfae weU-undentood effect of tiie 
frain. Is Outis's argument to the end that I have no 
right to this tUng for the reason that all tiie worid 
has? If this is not his argument, will he be kind 
enough to inform me (at his leisure) what it is ? Or 
is he prepared to confess himself so absurdly unin- 
formed as not to know that whatever a poet claims on 
the score of original versification, is claimed not on 
account of any individual rhythmical or metrical 
effects (for none are individually original), but solely 
on account of the novelty of his combinations of old 
effects ? The hypothesis, or manufacture, consists in 
tiie alteration of Coleridge's metre, witii the view of 
forcing it into a merely ocular similarity wifli my own, 
and thus of imposing upon some one or two grossly 
ignorant readers. I give the verses of Coleridge as 
tiiey are: 

For all averred, I had killed the Urd, 

That made the breeze to Uow. 
** Ah, wretch," said they, ** the Urd to day. 

That made the breeze to blow. 

The verses beginning, '' They all averred," etc., are 
arranged in the same manner. Row, I have taken it 
for granted that it is Outis's design to impose the idea 
of similarity between my lines and fliose of Coleridge 
upon some one or two grossly ignorant individuals; 
at the same time, whoever attempts such an imposi- 

178 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

tion is rendered liable at least to the suspicion of very 
gross ignorance himself. The ignorance or the knav- 
ery are the two uncomfortable horns of his dilemma. 
Let us see. Coleridge's lines are arranged in quat- 
rains, mine in couplets. His first and third lines 
rhyme at the dose of the second and fourth feet; mine 
flow continuously, without rhyme. His metre, briefly 
defined, is alternately tetrameter acatalectic and trim- 
eter acatalectic; mine is uniformly octameter cata- 
lectic It mig^t be expected, however, that at least 
the rhythm would prove to be identical, but not so. 
Coleridge's is iambic (varied in the third foot of the 
first line with an anapaest) ; mine is the exact converse, 
trochaic. The fact is, that neither in rhythm, metre, 
stanza, or rhyme is there even a single point of ap- 
proximation throughout ; the only similarity being tiie 
wickedly or sillily manufactured one of Outis himself, 
appealing from the ears to the eyes of the most un- 
cultivated classes of the rabble. The ingenuity and 
validity of the manufacture mig^t be approached, 
although certainly not paralleled, by an attempt to 
show that blue and yellow pigments, standing unmixed 
at separate ends of a studio, were equivalent to green. 
I say '< not paralleled," for even the mixing of tiie pig- 
ments, in the case of Cutis, would be very far, as I 
have shown^ from producing the supposititious effect 
Coleridge's lines, written together, would result in 
rhymed iambic heptameter acatalectic, while mine are 

179 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

nnrhymed trochaic octameter catalectlc, differing in 
every conceiTable drcumstance. A closer parallel than 
die one I have imagined would be the demonstration 
that two are equal to four, on the ground that, possess- 
ing two dollars, a man will have four when h« gets an 
additional couple — for that the additional couple ia 
somewhere, no one, after due consideration, will deny. 

If Outis will now take a seat upon one of the horns 
of his dilemma, I will proceed to the third variation of 
flw charges inghiuated throu^ the medium of the 
" gnariing critic," in Oie passage heretofore quoted. ' 

The first point to be attended to is the " ten to one 
that I never saw it before." Ten to one that I never 
did ; but Outis might have remembered that twenty to 
one I should like to see it In accusing eittier Mr. 
Aldrich or Hr. Hood, I printed ttteir poems together 
and in fulL But an anonymous gentleman rebuts my 
accusation by telling me that there is a certain simi- 
larity between a poem of my own and an anonymooa 
poem which he has before him, and which he would like 
to transcribe if it were not too long. He contents him- 
self, therefore, with giving me from this too long poem 
three stanzas which are shown, by a series of inter- 
vening periods, to have been culled, to suit his own 
purposes, trom different portions of &e poem, but 
which (again to suit his own purposes) he places be- 
fore the public in consecutive connection! The least 

'"I ban brfor* ma " to " put of mdi coiWf itoop." ■■*:. pp. is^i >ST. 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

tliat can be said of the whole statement is that it is 
deliciottsly frank ; but, upon the whole, the poem will 
look quite as well before me as before Outis, whose 
time is too much occupied to transcribe it. I, on the 
other hand, am entirely at leisure, and will transcribe 
and print the whole of it with the greatest pleasure in 
the world, provided always that it is not too long to 
refer to, too long to have its whereabouts pointed 
out, as I half suspect, from Outis's silence on the 
subject, that it is. One thing I will take it upon my- 
self to say, in the spirit of prophecy : whether the poem 
in question is or is not in existence (and we have only 
Nobody's word that it is), the passages as quoted are 
not in existence, except as quoted by Outis, who, in 
some particulars, I maintain, has falsified the text, for 
the purpose of forcing a similarity, as in the case of 
the verses of Coleridge. All this I assert in the spirit 
of prophecy, while we await the forthcoming of the 
poem. In the meantime, we will estimate the '' iden- 
tities '* with reference to TTie Raven as collated with 
the passages culled by Outis, granting him everything 
he is weak enough to imagine I am in duty bound to 
grant, admitting that the poem as a whole exists, that 
the words and lines are ingeniously written, that the 
stanzas have the connection and sequence he gives 
them, and that, although he has been already found 
guilty of chicanery in one instance, he is at least en- 
tirely innocent in this. 

i8i 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

He has established, he says, fifteen identities, ** and 
that, too, without a word of rhythm, metre, or stanza, 
which should never form a part of such comparison '* ; 
by which, of course, we are to understand that with 
the rhythm, metre, and stanza (omitted only because 
they should never form a part of such comparison) he 
would have succeeded in establishing eighteen. Row, 
I insist that rhythm, metre, and stanza should form 
and must form a part of the comparison, and I will 
presently demonstrate what I say. I also insist, there- 
fore, since he could find me guilty if he would upon 
these points, that guilty he must and shall find me 
upon the spot. He then distinctly has established 
eighteen identities, and I proceed to examine them one 
by one. 

'* First," he says, '' in each case the poet is a broken- 
hearted lover." Rot so ; my poet has no indication 
of a broken heart On the contrary, he lives trium- 
phantiy in the expectation of meeting his Lenore in 
Aidenn, and is so indignant with the raven for main- 
taining that the meeting will never take place as to 
call him a liar and order him out of the house. Rot 
only is my lover not a broken-hearted one, but I have 
been at some pains to show that broken hearts and 
matters of that kind are improperly made the subject 
of poems. I refer to a chapter of the articles entitied 
Marginalbh ** Second," says Outis, ** that lover longs 
for some hereafter communion with the departed." la 

i8a 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

my poem there is no expression of any such longing; 
the nearest approach to it is the triumphant conscious- 
ness which forms the thesis and staple of the whole. In 
Outis's poem the nearest approach to the *' longing '* 
is contained in the lover's request to the bird to repeat 
a strain that assures him (the lover) that it (the bird) 
has known the lost mistress. '* Third, there is a bird,'* 
says Outis. So there is. Mine, however, is a raven, 
and we may take it for granted that Outis's is either 
a nightingale or a cockatoo. ** Fourth, the bird is at 
the poet's window." As regards my poem, true; as 
regards Outis's, not; the poet only requests the bird 
to come to the window. *^ Fifth, the bird, being at the 
poet's window, makes a noise." The fourth specifica- 
tion failing, the fifth, which depends upon it, as a 
matter of course fails too. '' Sixth, making a noise 
attracts the attention of the poet" The fifth specifica- 
tion failing, the sixth, which depends upon it, fails, 
likewise, and as a matter of course, as before. '' Sev- 
enth, [the poet] was half-asleep, dozing, dreaming." 
False altogether ; only my poet was ** napping," and 
this in the commencement of the poem, which is occu- 
pied with realities and waking action. Outis's poet is 
fast asleep and dreams everything. ** Eighth, the poet 
invites the bird to come in." Another palpable fail- 
ure. Outis's poet, indeed, asked his bird in; but my 
raven walked in without any invitation. ** Ninth, a 
confabulation ensues." As regards my poem, true; 

i33 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

other in any comprehensible sense of tiie term. I 
mean to say that regard must be had not only to the 
number of the coincidences, but to the peculiarity of 
each, this peculiarity growing less and less necessary, 
and the effect of number more and more important, in 
a ratio prodigiously accumulative as the investigation 
progresses. And again, regard must be had not only 
to the number and peculiarity of the coincidences, but 
to the antagonistic differences, if any, which surround 
them, and very especially to the space over which the 
coincidences are spread, and the number or paucity of 
the events, or incidents, from among which the coin* 
cidences are selected. When Outis, for example, picks 
out his eighteen coincidences (which I am now grant- 
ing as sustained) from a poem so long as The Xayen, 
in collation with a poem not forthcoming, and which 
may, therefore, for anything anybody knows to the 
contrary, be as long as an infinite flock of ravens, he 
is merely putting himself to unnecessary trouble in 
getting together phantoms of arguments that can have 
no substance wherewith to aid his demonstration, until 
the ascertained extent of the unknown poem from 
which they are culled affords them a purpose and a 
palpability. Can any man doubt that between tiie 
Ulad and the Paradise Lost there might be established 
even a thousand very idios^cratic identities? — and 
yet is any man fool enough to maintain that the lUad 
is the only original of the Paradise Lostf 

1 88 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

emphatic part, of the first and third." What is here 
asserted is true only of the first stanza quoted by Outis, 
and of the commencement of the third. There is 
noticing of it in tiie second. In my poem there is 
noticing of it at all, with the exception of the repeti- 
tion in the refrain, occurring at the fifth line of my 
stanza of six. I quote a stanza, by way of rendering 
every tiling perfectly intelligible and affording Outis 
his much-coveted *' fair play " : 

** Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend I '' I shrieked^ 

upstarting, 
** Get thee back into the tempest and the Right's Plutonian 

shore I 
Leave no Uack plusM as a token of that lie thy soul hath 

spoken I 
Leave my loneliness unbroken I quit the bust above my door I 
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off 

my doorl '* 

Quoth the raven, ** Nevermore,'' 

Sixteenth, concerns the rhythm. Outis's is iambic; 
mine the exact converse, trochaic. Seventeenth, re- 
gards the metre. Outis's is hexameter, alternating 
with pentameter, both acatalectic Mine is octameter 

> This it as aceimte a dcicription as can be giYaii of the altamadiic (of fha 
•acond and f oortli) lliiM in a faw worda. The fact is, tliay are indeaoibabla 
without more trouble tlian tiiej are worth, and leem to me either to have been 
viittan by eome one ignofant of the prindplea of vefBe, or to be miaqooted. 
The Hne. however. 

That tallB me thou hast seen and loved my Clare, 



the deBcription I have civen of the altematUig Ts rs w, and wat» no 
dodbt, the fananl intaation of aU of them. 

i8s 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 



acatalectic, alteniatmg with heptameter catalectic re- 
peated in the lefcain of the fifth TexBe, and terminating 
with tetrameter catalectic Eigjiteenth, and last, has 
respect to the stanza, that is to say, to the general 
arrangement of the metre into mafwes. Of Outis's I 
need only say that it is a very common and certainly a 
very stupid one. My own has at least the merit of 
being my own. Ko writer, living or dead, has ever 
employed anything resembling it. The innumerable 
q^edfic differences between it and that of Outis's it 
would be a tedious matter to point out, but a far less 
difficult matter than to designate one individual p<nnt 
of similarity. 

And now, what are we to think of the ei^^teen iden- 
tities of Outis, — ^the fifteen that he establishes and the 
three that he could establish if he would, — ^that is to 
say, if he could only bring himself to be so unmerci- 
ful? Of tile whole eij^teen, sixteen have shown 
tiiemsdves to be lamentable failures, having no more 
substantial basis than sheer misrepresentation, *^ too 
paltry for any man who values his reputation as a 
gentleman and a scholar," and depending altogether 
for effect upon the chances that nobody would take 
the trouble to investigate their falsehood or their truth. 
Two— the third and the eleventii — are sustained; and 
these two show that in both poems there is '* an allu- 
sion to the departed,'' and that in both poems there 
is '* a bird." The first idea that suggests itself, at this 

i86 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

point, is, mdbietfaer not to have a bird and not to have 
an allusion to a deceased mistress, would not be the 
truer features of distinctiTeness after all, whether two 
poems which have not these items might not be more 
rationally charged with similarity than any two poems 
which have. But having tiius disproved all the iden- 
tities of Outis (for any one comprehending the prin- 
ciple of proof in such cases will admit that two only, 
are in effect just nothing at all), I am quite ready, by 
way again of affording him ** fair play,' to expunge 
everything that has been said on the subject, and pro- 
ceed as if every one of tiiese eic^teen identities were 
in the first bloom and deepest blush of a demonstration. 
I mi{^t grant them as demonstrated, to be sure, on 
the ground which I have already touched, that to prove 
me or anybody else an imitator is no mode of showing 
that Mr. Aldrich or Mr. Longfellow is not But I 
might safely admit them on another and equally sub- 
stantial consideration, which seems to have been over- 
looked by the zeal of Cutis altogether. He has clearly 
forgotten that the mere number of such coincidences 
proves nothing, because at any moment we can oblige 
it to prove too much. It is the easiest thing imagin- 
able to suggest, and even to do that which Outis has 
failed in doing, — ^to demonstrate a practically infinite 
series of identities between any two compositions in 
the world; but it by no means follows that all com- 
positions in tiie world have a similarity one with the 

187 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

other in any comprehensible sense of fbe term. I 
mean to say that regard must be had not only to the 
number of the coincidences, but to the peculiarity of 
each, this peculiarity growing less and less necessary, 
and the effect of number more and more important, in 
a ratio prodigiously accumulative as the investigation 
progresses. And again, regard must be had not only 
to the number and peculiarity of the coincidences, but 
to the antagonistic differences, if any, which surround 
them, and very especially to the space over which the 
coincidences are spread, and the number or paucity of 
the events, or incidents, from among which the coin* 
cidences are selected. When Outis, for example, picks 
out his eij^teen coincidences (which I am now grant- 
ing as sustained) from a poem so long as The Favent 
in collation with a poem not forthcoming, and iR^ch 
may, therefore, for anything anybody knows to the 
contrary, be as long as an infinite flock of ravens, he 
is merely putting himself to unnecessary trouble in 
getting together phantoms of arguments that can have 
no substance wherewith to aid his demonstration, until 
the ascertained extent of the unknown poem from 
which they are culled affords them a purpose and a 
palpability. Can any man doubt that between the 
niad and tiie Paradise Lost tiiere might be established 
even a thousand very idiosyncratic identities ? — and 
yet is any man fool enough to mflintain that flie lUad 
is the only original of the Paradise Lostf 

1 88 



Mr. Longfellow and Other 



But how is it in tiie case of Messieurs Aldrich and 
Hood ? The poems here are both remarkably brief, 
and as I have every intention to do justice and no 
other intention in the world, I shall be pardoned for 
again directing attention to them. 

Let it be understood that I am entirely uninformed 
as to which of these two poems was first published. 
And so little has the question of priority to do with my 
thesis, that I shall not put myself to the trouble of 
inquiring. What I maintain is, that there are suffi- 
cient grounds for belief that one is plagiarized from 
the other. Who is the original, and who is the plagia- 
rist, are points I leave to be settled by any one who 
thinks the matter of sufficient consequence to give it 
his attention. But the man who shall deny the plagia- 
rism abstractly — ^what is it that he calls upon us to 
believe ? First, that two poets, in remote parts of the 
world, conceived the idea of composing a poem on the 
subject of Death. Of course, there is nothing remark- 
able in this. Death is a naturally poetic theme, and 
suggests itself by a seeming spontaneity to every poet 
in the woild. But had the subject chosen by the two 
widely separated poets been even strikingly peculiar, — 
had it been, for example, a porcupine, a piece of ginger- 
bread, or anjrthing unlikely to be made the subject of 
a poem, still no sensible person would have insisted 
upon the single coincidence as anything beyond a 
single coincidence. We have no difficulty, therefore, 

189 



Mr. Longfellow and Other 



altogether on the ground of the indisputable possibility. 
Fifthly, we are requested to believe that our poets hap- 
pened not only upon death, upon the death of a woman, 
upon the tranquil death of a woman, and upon the 
lying of this woman tranquilly throughout the night, 
but, also, upon the idea of selecting, from the innum- 
erable phases which characterize a tranquil death-bed, 
the identical one of soft breathing, employing also the 
identical word. Here the reason gives up the en- 
deavor to believe that one poem has not been suggested 
by the other; if it be a reason accustomed to deal 
with the mathematical calculus of probabilities, it has 
abandoned this endeavor at the preceding stage of the 
investigation. The evidence of suggestion has now 
become prodigiously accumulate. Each succeeding 
coincidence, however slight, is proof not merely added, 
but multiplied by hundreds of thousands. Szthly, we 
are called upon to believe, not only that the two poets 
happened upon all this, together with the idea of the 
soft breathing, but also of employing the identical word 
« breathmg '* in the same line with the identical word 
^* night** This proposition the reason receives with a 
smile. Seventhly, however, we are required to admit, 
not only all that has already been found inadmissible, 
but, in addition, that the two poets conceived the idea 
of representing the death of a woman as occurring 
precisely at the same instant, out of all the infinite 
instants of all time. This proposition the reason 

191 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

receives only with a sneer. Eighthly, we are called 
upon to acquiesce in the assertion that not only all 
these improbabilities are probable, but that in addition 
again, the two poets happened upon the idea of repre- 
senting the woman as stepping immediately into para- 
dise ; and, ninthly, that both should not only happen 
upon all this, but upon the idea of writing a peculiarly 
brief poem on so admirably suggestive a thesis ; and, 
tenthly, that out of the various rhythms, that is to say, 
variations of poetic feet, they should have both hap- 
pened upon the iambus; and, eleventhly, that out of 
the absolutely infinite metres that may be contrived 
from this rhythm, they should both have hit upon the 
tetrameter acatalectic for the first and third lines of 
a stanza ; and, twelfthly, upon the trimeter acatalectic 
for the second and fourth ; and, thirteenthly, upon an 
absolute identity of phrase at, f ourteenthly, an abso- 
lutely identical position, viz., upon the phrases, '' But 
when the mom,'* etc., and *' But when the sun,** etc., 
occurring in the beginning of the first line in the last 
stanza of each poem; and, fifteenthly and lastly, that 
of the vast multitude of appropriate titles, they should 
both have happened upon one whose identity is inter- 
fered with at all only by the difference between the 
definite and the indefinite article. 

Now, the chances that these fifteen coincidences, so 
peculiar in character, and all occurring within the 
compass of eight short lines on the one part, and six- 

19a 



Mr Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

teen on the other — ^the chanceSi I say, that these co- 
incidences are merely accidental may be estimated, 
possibly^ as about one to one hmidred millions; and 
any man who reasons at all is, of course, grossly in- 
sulted in being called upon to credit them as acddentaL 

*' I have written what I have written,'* says Outis, 
** from no personal motives, but simply because, from 
my earliest reading of reviews and critical notices, I 
have been disgusted with this wholesale mangling of 
victims without rhyme or reason." I have already 
agreed to believe implicitly everything asserted by the 
anonymous Outis, and am fully prepared to admit, 
even, his own contradiction, in one sentence, of what 
he has insisted upon in the sentence preceding. I 
shall assume it is indisputable, then (since Nobody says 
it), that, first, he has no acquaintance with myself and 
** some acquaintance with Mr. Longfellow,** and, sec- 
ondly, that he has ** written what he has written from 
no personal motives whatever." That he has been 
disgusted with ''the mangling of victims without 
rhyme or reason *' is, to be sure, a little unaccountable, 
for the victims without rhyme or reason are precisely 
the victims that ought to be mangled; but that he has 
been disgusted '' from his earliest reading," with criti- 
cal notices and reviews is credible enough if we but 
imagine his *' earliest reading " and earliest writing to 
have taken place about the same epoch of time. 

But, to be serious; if Outis has his own private 

VOL, vm. — ^13. I Q ^ 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

reasons for being disgusted with what he terms the 
^uriiolesale mangling of victims without riiyme or 
reason,** there is not a man living, of common sense 
and common honesty, uriio has not better reason (if 
possible) to be disgusted with the insufferable cant and 
shameless misrepresentation practised habitually by 
just such persons as Outis, with the view of decrying 
by sheer strength of lungs, of trampling down, of riot- 
ing down, of mobbing down any man with a soul that 
bids him come out from among the general corruption 
of our public press, and take his stand upon the open 
ground of rectitude and honor. The Outises who 
practice this species of buUyism are, as a matter of 
course, anonymous. They are either the ^victims 
without rhyme or reason ^riio have been mangled by 
wholesale,** or they are the relatives, or the relatives 
of the relatives of the *' victims without rhyme or 
reason who have been mangled by wholesale.** Their 
watchwords are *' carping littleness,** '* envious malig- 
nity,** and '* personal abuse.** Their low artifices are 
insinuated calumnies and indefatigable whispers of re- 
gret, from post to pillar, that ^ Mir. So-and-So, or 
Mr. This-and-Xhat will persist in rendering himself 
so dreadfully unpopular,** no one, in the meantime, 
being more thoroughly and painfully aware than these 
very Outises that the unpopularity of the just critic 
who reasons his way, guiltless of dogmatism, is con- 
fined altogether within the limits of the infiuence of 

<94 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

the victims without rhyme and reason who have been 
mangled by wholesale. Even the manifest injustice 
of a Giff ord is, I grieve to say, an exceedingly popular 
thing; and there is no literary element of popularity 
more absolutely and more universally effective than 
the pungent impartiality of a Wilson or a Macaulay. 
In regard to my own course, without daring to arro- 
gate to myself a single other quality of either of these 
eminent men than that pure contempt for mere preju- 
dice and conventionality which actuated them all, I 
will now unscrupulously call the attention of the 
Outises to the fact that it was during what they (the 
Outises) would insinuate to be the unpopularity of my 
'* wholesale mangling of the victims without rhyme 
and reason ** that, in one year, the circulation of the 
Souibem Messeager (a five-dollar journal) extended 
itself from seven hundred to nearly five thousand ; and 
that, in little more than twice the same time, Graham's 
Magazine swelled its list from five thousand to fifty- 
two thousand subscribers. 

I make no apology for these egotisms, and I proceed 
with them without hesitation ; for, in myself, I am but 
defending a set of principles which no honest man 
need be ashamed of defending, and for whose defence 
no honest man will consider an apology required. The 
usual watchwords of the Outises when repelling a 
criticism, their customary charges, overt or insinuated, 
are (as I have already said) those of ** personal abuse " 

195 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

and ''wholesale (or indlscrimmate) mangling." In 
the present instance the latter solely is employed; for 
not even an Outis can accuse me, with even a decent 
show of verisimilitiidey of having ever descended, in 
the most condemnatory of my reviews, to that per- 
sonal abuse which, upon one or two occasions, has 
indeed been levelled at myself in the spasmodic en- 
deavors of aggrieved authors to rebut what I have 
ventured to demonstrate. I have, then, to refute only 
the accusation of mangling by wholesale, and I refute 
it by the simplest reference to fact. What I have 
written remains; and is readily accessible in any of 
our public libraries. I have had one or two impotent 
enemies and a multitude of cherished friends, and both 
friends and enemies have been, for the most part, lit- 
erary people ; yet no man can point to a single critique, 
among the very numerous ones which I have written 
during the last ten years, which is either wholly fault- 
finding or wholly in approbation; nor is there an 
instance to be discovered, among all that I have pub- 
lished, of my having set forth, either in praise or 
censure, a single opinion upon any critical topic of 
moment, without attempting, at least, to give it au- 
thority by something that wore the semblance of a 
reason. Now, is there a writer in the land who, having 
dealt in criticism even one fourth as much as myself^ 
can of his own criticisms conscientiously say the same 7 
The fact is, that very many of the most eminent men 

196 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

of America, whom I am proud to number among the 
sincerest of my friends, have been rendered so solely 
by their approbation of my comments upon their own 
works,— comments in great measure directed against 
themselves as authors, — ^belonging altogether to that 
very class of criticism which it is the petty policy of 
the Outises to cry down, with their diminutive voices, 
as offensive on the score of wholesale vituperation and 
personal abuse. If, to be brief, in what I have put 
forth there has been a preponderance of censure over 
commendation, is there not to be imagined for this 
preponderance a more charitable motive than any 
which the Outises have been magnanimous enough to 
asdgn me ; is not this preponderance, in a word, the 
natural and inevitable tendency of all criticism worth 
the name in this age of so tmiversal an authorship, 
that no man in his senses wiU pretend to deny the vast 
predominance of good writers over bad ? 

** And now " says Outis *^ for the matter of Long- 
fellow's imitations, in what do they consist? The 
critic is not very specific in this charge. Of what kind 
are they ? Are they imitations of thought ? Why not 
call them plagiarisms, then, and show them up ? Or 
are they only verbal imitations of style ? Perhaps 
this is one of them, in his poem on the Sea Weedi 

drifting, drifting, drifting, 
On the shifting 
Currents of the restless main, 

197 



Mr. Longfellow and Other 



resembling in form and collocation only, a line in a 
beautiful and very powerful poem of Mr. Edgar A. 
Poe. (Write it rather Edgar, a Poet, and then it is 
right to a T.) I have not the poem before me, and 
have forgotten its title. But he is describing a mag- 
nificent intellect in ruins, if I remember rightly, and, 
speaking of the eloquence of its better days, repre- 
sents it as 

flowing, flowing, flowing, 
Like a river. 

'' Is this what the critic means ? Is it such imita- 
tions as this that he alludes to ? If not, I am at fault, 
either in my reading of Longfellow, or in my general 
familiarity with the American poets. If this be the 
kind of imitation referred to, permit me to say, the 
charge is too paltry for any man who valued his repu- 
tation as a gentleman or a scholar.'* 

Elsewhere he says : 

^* Moreover, this poem contains an example of that 
kind of repetition which I have supposed the critic 
meant to charge upon Longfellow as one of his imi- 
tations: 

Away — away — away, etc. 

** I might pursue it farther, but I will not Such 
criticisms only make the author of them contemptible, 
without soiling a plume in the cap of his victim." 

198 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

The first point to be here observed is the compla- 
cency with which Outis supposes me to make a certain 
charge and then vituperates me for his own absurd 
supposition. Were I, or any man, to accuse Mr. 
Longfellow of imitation on the score of thrice em- 
ploying a word in consecutive connection, then I (or 
any man) would only be guilty of as great a sotticism 
as was Cutis in accusing me of imitation on the score 
of the refrain. The repetition in question is assuredly 
not claimed by myself as original ; I should therefore 
be wary how I charged Mr. Longfellow with imitating 
it from myself. It is, in fact, a musical effect which 
is the common property of all mankind, and has been 
their common property for ages. Nevertheless, the 
quotation of this 

drifting, drifting, drifting, 

is, on the part of Outis, a little unfortunate. Most 
certainly the supposed imitation had never been 
observed by me; nor even, had I observed it, 
should I have considered it individually, as a point 
of any moment; but all will admit (since Outis him- 
self has noticed the parallel), that, were a second 
parallel of any obviousness to be established from the 
same brief poem, the Sea Weed, this second would 
come in very strong corroboration of the first Now 
the sixth stanza of this very Sea Weed (which was 
first published in Graham's Magazine for January, 
2845) commences with 

199 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

From the far-off ides enchanted; 

and in a litUe poem of my own, addressed To Mary, 
and first published at page 636 of the first volume of 
the South em Literary Messeoger, will be found the 
lines: 

And thus thy memory is to me 
Like some enchanted far-off isle 
In some tumultuous sea. 

But to shoW| in general, what I mean by accusing Mr. 
Longfellow of imitation, I collate his Midnight Mass 
for the Dying Year, with The Death of the Old Year 
of Tennyson. 

MIDNIGHT MASS FOR THE DYING TEAR 

Yes, the Year is growing old. 

And his eye is pale and Uearedl 
Death, with frosty hand and cold. 

Plucks the old man by the beard. 
Sorely, sorely! 

The leaves are falling, falling, 

Solemnly and alow; 
Cawl caw! the rooks are calling. 

It is a sound of woe, 
A sound of woe! 

Through woods and mountain passes 

The winds, like anthems, roU; 
They are chanting solemn masses, 
Singing, *' Pray for this poor soul. 
Pray, pray! " 
200 



:;-.'j >■■ 



»* i 



< • o i 



.J 



' t«. 



,f 



. .' 



M . 



"-6-^ 



• f ' 1 

'\ t' issed To Mory, 

•f 'be first volume -f 

•./, VN-U be found the 



• : ir-"fT isle 



•. i. 



. , ■ . * I mean by accusing Mr. 
.1 ••*• his Midaigbt Mtiss 

.• ! - .^ ■• .' c- L\ ath of the Old Year 

The Fall of the House of Usher. 

•• But th«n iBrtthiii^^t^fsw^ciprFinlBiHi^of ^IgS^^the lofty 
and (•Tishr«)iuh (1 ti<jurc of the Ladv Madeline of Usher." 



.- : • < I iv 


>M, 


• :■' > t * "• r •••■ 


' .'.-.r^.i! 


w'^ri ::> , .. • 


! .iiiil co^J^ 


vl ^ t: ■ .': • 


■ 'I A' i-.t-ard. 


s . . . . ' . ' 





C. ^^ .' iv^ ! »,.* : . . . » < il'ii:::^, 
r.^y. pi ay: *» 



Mr. JLongfellow and Other Plagiarists 

And the hooded clouds, like frian, 
TeU their beads in drops of rain. 

And patter their doleful prayers; 
But their prayers are all in vain, 
Aliinvaint 

There he stands in the foul weather, 

The foolish, fond Old Tear, 
Crowned with wild flowers and with heather 

Like weak, despisM Lear, 
A king, a kingi 

Then comes the summer-like day. 

Bids the old man rejoice I 
His joy I his last I Oh, the old man stay, 

Loyeth her ever-soft voice. 
Gentle and lowl 

To the crimson woods he saith. 

To the voice gentle and low 
Of the soft air, like a daughter's breath, 

** Pray do not mock me so 1 
Do not laugh at met " 

And now the sweet day is dead; 

Cold in his arms it lies; 
No stain from its breath is spread 

0?er the glassy skies, 
No mist nor stain t 

Then, too, the Old Tear dieth. 

And the forests utter a moan. 
Like the voice of one who crieth 

In the wilderness alone, 
<* Vex not his ghost!" 

20I 



Mr. LfOng^ellow and Other Plagiarists 

Then comes, with an awful niar, 

Gathering and aoonding on. 
The storm-wind from Labrador, 

The wind Eurodydon, 
The storm-wind t 

Ho^I howl I and from the forest 

Sweep the red leaves away I 
Would the sins that thou abhoirest, 

O soul I could thus decay, 
And be swept awayl 

For there shall come a mightier Uast, 

There shall be a darker day; 
And the stars, from heaven down-cast 
Like red leaves be swept awayl 
Kyrie, eleysonl 
Christe, eleysonl 

THE DEATH OF THE OLD TEAR 

Full knee-deep lies the winter snow, 

And the winter winds are wearily sighing; 
Toll ye the church-bell sad and slow, 
And tread softly, and speak low. 
For the Old Year lies a-dying. 
Old Year, you must not die; 
You came to us so readily. 
You lived with us so steadily. 
Old Year, you shall not die. 

He lieth still; he doth not move; 

He will not see the dawn of day; 
He hath no other life above. 
He gave me a friend, and a true true-love, 

202 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

And the Hew Tear will take 'em away. 
Old Year, you must not go ; 
So long as you have been with usy 
Such Joy as you have seen with usi 
Old Tear, you shall not go. 

He frothed his bumpers to the brim; 

A jollier year we shall not see; 
But though his ejres are waxing dim. 
And though his foes speak ill of him. 
He was a friend to me. 

Old Tear, you shall not die ; 
We did so laugh and cry with yon, 
I Ve half a mind to die with you. 
Old Tear, if you must die. 

He was full of joke and jest. 

But all his merry quips are o*er. 
To see him die, across the waste 
ffis son and heir doth ride post-haste, 
But he 11 be dead before. 
Every one for his own; 
The night is starry and cold, my friend. 
And the New Year, blithe and bold, my friend. 
Comes up to take his own. 

How hard he breathes! Over the snow 

I heard just now the crowing cock. 
The shadows fficker to and fro ; 
The cricket chirps; the light bums low; 
T is neariy one o'clock. 

Shake hands before you die; 
Old Tear, we 11 dearly rue for you, 

203 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

WliAt is it we can do for yoa ? 
Speak out before you die. 

EQs face is growing sharp and thin. 

Alaclct our friend is gonel 
Close up his ejres; tie up his chin; 
Step from the corpeey and let him in 
That standeth there alonoi 
And waiteth at the door. 
There 's a new foot on the floor, my friend. 
And a new face at the door, my friend, 
A new face at the door. 



I have no idea of commentingi at any lengtfai upon 
this imitation^ which is too palpable to be mistaken, 
and which belongs to the most barbarous class of 
literary piracy, that class in which, while the words 
of the wronged author are avdded, his most intangible, 
and therefore his least defensible and least redaimaUe, 
property is appropriated. Here, with the exception of 
lapses which, however, speak volumes (such, for in- 
stance, as the use of the capitalized '' Old Tear,*' the 
general peculiarity of the rhythm, and the absence of 
rhyme at the end of each stanza), there is nothing 
of a visible or palpable nature by which the source 
of the American poem can be established. But then 
nearly all that is valuable in the piece of Tennyson 
is the first conception of personifying the Old Tear as 
a dying old man, with the singularly wild and fan- 
tastic manner in which that conception is carried out. 

204 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

Of this conception and of this manner he is robbed. 
What is here not taken from Tennyson is made up, 
mosaically, from the death scene of Cordelia, in Lear, 
to which I refer the curious reader. 

In Grabam's Magazine for February, 1843, there 
appeared a poem, furnished by Professor Longfellow, 
entitled The Good George Campbellf and purporting 
to be a translation from the German of 0. L. B. Wolff. 
In Minstrelsy Ancient and Modem, by William 
Motherwell, published by John Wylie, Glasgow, 1827, 
is to be found a poem partly compiled and partly 
written by Motherwell himself. It is entitled The 
Bonnie George Campbell I give the two side by 
side: 



MOTHERWELL 

Hie upon Hielands 

And low upon Tay, 
Bonnie Geoxge Campbell 

Rade out on a day. 
Swldled and tiridled 

And gallant rade he; 
Hame cam his gude hone, 

But never cam he. 

Out cam his auld mither 

Greeting fu' sair, 
And out cam his bonnie bride 

Rivin' her hair. 
Saddled and bridled 

And booted nde he; 



L0H6FELL0W 

ffigh on the Highlands, 

And deep in the day, 
The good George CampbeU 

Rode free and away. 
AU saddled, aU bridled. 

Gay garments he wore; 
Home came his gude steed. 

But he nevermore I 

Out came his mother, 

Weeping so sadly; 
Out came his beauteous bride 

Weeping so madly. 
AU saddled, aU bridled, 

Strong armor he wore; 



205 



Mr. Longfellow and Other 



MOTHERWELL 

Toom hame cam the saddle. 
But never cam he. 

M My meadow lies green. 

And my com is nnshom; 
My bam is too tdg. 

And my baby 's imbom." 
Saddled and bridled 

And booted rade he; 
Toom hame cam the saddle, 

But never cam he. 



L0H6FELL0W 

Home came the saddle, 
But he nevermore I 

«< My meadow lies green, 

Unreaped is my com; 
My gamer is empty, 

My child is imbom." 
All saddled, all bridled. 

Sharp weapons he bore; 
Home came the saddle. 

But he nevermore] 



Professor Longfellow defends himself (I learn) from 
fhe charge of imitation in this case by the assertion 
that he did translate from Wolff , but that Wolff copied 
from MotherweU. I am willing to believe almost 
anything than so gross a plagiarism as this seems to 
be; but there are difficulties which should be cleared 
up. In the first place, how happens it that, in the 
transmission from the Scotch into German, and again 
from the German into English, not only the versifica- 
tion should have been rigidly preserved, but the 
rhymes and alliterations? Again, how are we to 
imagine that Mr. Longfellow, with his known inti- 
mate acquaintance with Motherwell's Minstrelsy, did 
not at once recognize so remarkable a poem when he 
met it in Wolff? I have now before me a large 
volume of songs, ballads, etc., collected by Wolff ; but 
there is here no such poem, and, to be sure it should 

206 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

not be sought in such a collection. ITo collection of 
his own poems has been published, and the piece of 
which we are in search must be fugitive; imlesSi in- 
deed, it is included in a volume of translations from 
various tongues, of which 0. L. B. Wolff is also the 
author, but of wtdch I am unable to obtain a copy.' 
It is by no means improbable that here the poem in 
question is to be found; but in this case it must have 
been plainly acknowledged as a translation, with its 
original designated. How, then, could Professor 
Longfellow have translated it as original with Wolff 7 
These are mysteries yet to be solved. It is observable^ 
peculiarly so— that the Scotch ** Toom " is left un- 
translated in the version of Grabam^a Magazine, 
Will it be found that the same omission occurs in 
Wolff's version 7 

In The Spaniab Student of Mr. Longfellow, at page 
8o, will be found what follows : 



<' Scene IV.— F/cc/osa's cbamber. She is sitting with 
a book in ber band near a table, on wbicb are 
Bowers, A bird singing in its cage, Tbe Count 
of Lara enters beiiind, unperceived, 
Predosa (reads), 

AU are aieepiiig, weaiy hearti 
Thou, thou only deepieas art! 



> Sunmltiac TORligHcli«r Volkriieder der bakanntasteii H«tloiiaii. groc- 
tMithdli zom Milini mate* nMtrifch in dai DeotKh* ttbertra<en. Fnuikfiirt« 
1837. 

207 



Mr. Longfellow and Other r^iagiarists 

Heigho I I wish Victorian were here. 
I Imow not what it is makes me so restlessl 
Thou little prisoner with thy motley coat, 
That from thy vaulted| wiry dungeon singest, 
Like thee I am a captive, and, like thee, 
I have a gentle gaoler. Lack-a-dayl 



All are deeping, weaxy hearti 
Thou, thou only Bleepleas art I 
AU this throbbing, aU this aching, 
Evermore shaU keep thee waking, 
For a heart in sorrow breaking 
Thinketh ever of its smart! 

Thou speakest truly, poet I and methinks 
More hearts are breaking in this world of ours 
Than one would say. In distant villages 
And solitudes remote, where winds have wafted 
The barbM seeds of love, or birds of passage 
Scattered them in their flight, do they take root, 
And grow in silence, and in silence perish. 
Who hears the falling of the forest leaf ? 
Or who takes note of every flower that dies 7 
Heigho I I wish Victorian would come. 
Dolores I (Tuma to lay down bet book, and percehea 
ibe Count) Hal 

Lara* Sefiora, pardon me i 

Predoaa, How 's this ? Dolores! 

Lara^ Pardon me — 

Predoaa, Dolores I 

208 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

Lara0 Be not alarmed; I found no one in waiting. 

If I have been too bold — 

Prechsa {turaiag bet back upon hhn), Touaretoo 
boldl 

Retirel retire, and leave mel 

Lara. My dear lady, 
First hear mel I beseech you, let me speaki 
T is for your good I come. 

Prtdoaa {iumiag toward blm witb indignation). 

Begone! begone 1 
Ton are the Count of Lara, but your deeds 
Would make the statues of your ancestors 
Blush in their tombs I Is it Castilian honor. 
Is it Castilian pride, to steal in here 
Upon a friendless girl, to do her wrong ? 

shamel shamel shame! that you, a nobleman, 
Should be so little noble in your thoughts 

As to send jewels here to win my love. 
And think to buy my honor with your goldl 

1 have no words to tell you how I scorn youl 
Begone! the sight of you is hateful to mel 
Begone, I say! " 

A few passages farther on, in the same scene, we 
meet the following stage directions : '' He tries to em- 
brace her, she starts back and draws a dagger from 
her bosom." A little farther still and *' Victorian 
enters behind." Compare all this with a Soene trom 

▼ou vin.— 14. 209 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

^Polkian''t An Unpublished Tragedy by Edgar A. 
Peef to be found in the second volume of the Soaibem 
Literary Messenger, 
The scene opens with the following stage directions: 

^A lady's apartmentf with a window open and looking 
into a garden, Lalage in deep moumiagf reading 
at a table, on which lie some books and a hand^ 
mirror. In the background, Jadnta leans care^ 
lessly on the backofa chair, « « , 
Lalage (reading) ' It in another dimatei* so he said, 

' Bore a bright golden flower, but not i' this soill * 

(pauses, turns over some leaves, and resumes) 

< ITo lingering winters there, nor snow, nor shower, 
But Ocean ever, to refresh mankind. 

Breathes the shrill spirit of the western wind.' 
Oh, beautifull most beautifull how like 
To what my fevered soul doth dream of heaven I 
happy land! (pauses) She diedl the maiden diedl 
O still more happy maiden who couldst diet 
Jadnta I 

(Jadnta returns no answer, and Lalage pres^ 
ently resumes) 
AgainI a similar tale 

Told of a beauteous dame beyond the seal 
Thus speaketh one Ferdinand in the words of the play: 
* She died full young '; one Bossola answers him: 

< I think not so^her infelicity 

2IO 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

Seemed to have years too many.' Ah, luckless lady I 

Jacmtal {Still no answer) Here 's a far sterner stoiy, 

But like— oh, very like in its despair — 

Of that Egyptian queen, winning so easily 

A thousand hearts; losing at length her own. 

She died. Thus endeth the history; and her maids 

Lean over her and weep — ^two gentle maids 

With gentle names, Eiros and CharmionI 

Rainbow and Dove I Jadnta I • . . 

(Jadntaf Enally in a diaeuasion about certaia 

fewelSf insuha ber mistteaSf wbo bursts into 

tears) 
Lalage, Poor Lalagel and is it come to this 7 
Thy servant-maid I — but couragel *t is but a viper 
Whom thou hast cherished to sting thee to the soull 

(taking up tbe mirror) 
Hal here at least *s a friend — ^too much a friend 
In earlier days; a friend will not deceive thee. 
Fair mirror and true, now tell me (for thou canst) 
A tale, a pretty tale, and heed thou not 
Though it be rife with woe. It answers me. 
It speaks of sunken eyes, and wasted cheeks, 
And Beauty long deceased — ^remembers me 
Of Joy departed ; Hope, the Seraph Hope, 
Inumed and entombed ; now, in a tone 
Low, sad, and solemn, but most audible 
Whispers of early grave untimely yawning 
For ruined maid. Fair mirror and true, thou liest noti 

211 



Mr. LfOng^ellow and Other Plagiarists 

Thou hast no end to gain, no heart to break; 
Castiglione lied who said he loved — 
Thou true — ^he falsel falsel false! 

( White she speaks a Monk eaters ber apsrt^ 
mentf and approaches unobserved) 

Monk Refuge thou hast. 
Sweet daughter, m heaven. Think of eternal things; 
Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray I 

Lalage, {arising hurriedly) I cannot pray I My 
soul is at war with GodI 
The frightful sounds of merriment below 
Disturb my senses; go! I cannot pray; 
The sweet airs from the garden worry me; 
Thy presence grieves me : go ! thy priestly raiment 
Fills me with dread; thy ebony crudfiz 
With horror and awe! 

Monk Think of thy precious soul! 

Lalage, Think of my early days! think of my father 
And mother in heaven ; think of our quiet home, 
And the rivulet that ran before the door; 
Think of my little sisters; think of them! 
And think of me! — ^think of my trusting love 
And confidence — ^his vows — ^my ruin — ^think, think 
Of my unspeakable misery! begone! 
Tet stay, yet stay, what was it thou saidst of prayer 
And penitence 7 Didst thou not speak of faith 
And vows before the throne 7 

ilfon^ I did. 

212 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

Lalage, 'T is welL 
There is a vow were fitting should be made — 
A sacred vow, imperative and urgent, 
A solemn vow I 

Monk Daughter, this zeal is well I 

Lalage, Father, this zeal is anything but well I 
Hast thou a crudfiz fit for this thing! 
A crudfiz whereon to register 
This sacred vow ? (He bands ber bis own) 
Not that— oh, not no! no! (sbuddering) 
Not that, not that! I tell thee, holy man. 
Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright mel 
Stand back! I have a crucifix myself, 
I have a crudfixl Methinks 't were fitting 
The deed, the vow, the symbol of the deed. 
And the deed's register should tally, father! 

{Draws a eross^bandled dagger and raises it on 
bigb) 
Behold the cross wherewith a vow like mine 
Is written in heaven! 

Monk Thy words are madness, daughter. 
And speak a purpose unholy; thy lips are livid. 
Thine eyes are wild; tempt not the wrath divine! 
Pause ere too late! oh, be not, be not rash! 
Swear not the oath, oh, swear it not ! 

Lalage. *T is sworn! '* 

The coincidences here are too markedly peculiar to 

213 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

be p^nmmtA The littiiig at tiie taUe witb books, etc^ 
die floweiB on the one hand, and tiie garden on the 
other, tbe preaence of Uie pert maid, tiie reading aiood 
from tiie book, tiie panaing and commenting, tiie 
phuntiTeneaB of idiat is read in accordance with the 
sorrow of tbt reader, tiie abstraction, the freqoent 
calling of tiie maid bj name, the refosal of the maid 
to answer, tiie jewels, tbt '* begone '*, the unseen en> 
trance of a tliird person from behind, and the drawing 
of tiie dagger, are pwits sufficiently noticeable to es- 
tablish at least the imitation beyond aU doubt 

Let us now compare the concluding lines of Mr. 
Longfellow's AtghMiun with that of Mr. Bryant's Tbaiui^ 
topst»0 Mr. B. has it thus : 

So live, that alien thy sonunons comes to johi 
The inmunersble caravan that moves 
To that mysterious reslm where each ahall take 
His chamber hi Jhe sileiit hsUs of death. 
Thou go not like the quaxxy dave at night 
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed 
By an unfsltering trust, approach thy grave, 
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 
About him, and lies down to pleassnt dreams. 

Mr. L. thus : 

For him the wind, ay, and the ]rellow leaves. 
Shall have a voice and give him eloquent teachings. 
He shall so hear the solemn hymn that Death 
Has lifted iq> lor aU, that he shall go 
To his long resting-place without a tear. 

214 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 



Again, in his Prelude to the Voices of the Night Mr. 
Longfellow says : 

Look then hito thine heart and writel 

Sir Philip Sidney in the Aatropliet and Stella has: 

FoQle, said my Muse to me, looke in thy heart and writel 

Again, in Longfellow's Midnight Mass we read: 

And the hooded clouds, like friars. 

The Lady in Milton's Comus says: 

When the gray-hooded even 
Like a sad yotarist in palmer's weeds. 

And again, these lines by Professor Longfellow will 
be remembered by everybody: 

Art Is long, and time is fleeting, 
And our hearts, though stout and brave. 

Still, like mufBled drums, are beating 
Funeral marches to the grave. 

But if any one will turn to page 66 of John Sharpe's 
edition of Henry Headley's Select Beauties of Ancient 
English Foetrfi published at London in z8zo, he will 
there find an Exequy on the death of his wife by Henry 
King, Bishop of Chichester, and therein also the fol- 
lowing lines, where the author is speaking of follow- 
ing his wife to the grave: 

But hark! my pulse, like a soft drum. 
Beats my approach — ^tells thee I come I 
And slow howe'er my marches be, 
I shall at last sit down by thee. 

2IS 



Mr. LfOngfellow and Other Plagiarists 

Were I disposed, indeed, to push this subject any 
further, I should have little difficulty in culling, from 
the works of the author of Ouire Mer, a score or two 
of imitations quite as palpable as any upon which I 
have insisted. The fact of the matter is, that the 
friends of Mr. Longfellow, so far from undertaking to 
talk about my ** carping littleness " in charging Mr. 
Longfellow with imitation, should have given me 
credit, under the circumstances, for great modera- 
tion in charging him with imitation alone. Had I 
accused him, in loud terms, of manifest and contin- 
uous plagiarism, I should but have echoed the senti- 
ment of every man of letters in the land beyond the 
immediate influence of the Longfellow coterie. And 
since I, ** knowing what I know and seeing what I 
have seen," submitting in my own person to accu- 
sations of plagiarism for the very sins of this 
gentleman against myself — since I contented myself, 
nevertheless, with simply setting forth the merits of 
the poet in the strongest li^^t, whenever an oppor- 
tunity was afforded me, can it be considered either 
decorous or equitable on the part of Professor Long- 
fellow to beset me, upon my first adventuring an 
infinitesimal sentence of dispraise, with ridiculous 
anonymous letters from his friends, and, moreover, 
with malice prepense, to instigate against me the 
pretty Uttle witch entitled ** Miss Walter," advising 
her and instructing her to pierce me to death with the 

216 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

needles of iimisinerable epigrams, rendered unneces- 
sarily and therefore cruelly painful to my feelings by 
being first carefully deprived of the point ? 

It should not be supposed that I feel myself indi- 
vidually aggrieved in the letter of Outis. He has 
praised me even more than he has blamed. In re- 
plying to him, my design has been to place fairly and 
distinctly before the literary pubUc certain principles 
of criticism for which I have been long contending, 
and which, through sheer misrepresentation, were in 
danger of being misunderstood. 

Having brought the subject, in this view, to a close, 
I now feel at Uberty to add a few words, by way of 
freeing myself of any suspicion of malevolence or 
discourtesy. The thesis of my argument, in general, 
has been the definition of the grounds on which a 
charge of plagiarism may be based, and of the species 
of ratiocination by which it is to be established: that 
is all. It will be seen by any one who shall take the 
trouble to read what I have written, that I make no 
charge of moral delinquency against either Mr. Long- 
fellow, Mr. Aldrich, or Mr. Hood; indeed, lest in the 
heat of argument, I may have uttered any words 
which may admit of being tortured into such inter- 
pretation, I here fuUy disclaim them upon the spot. 

In fact, the one strong point of defence for his 
friends has been unaccountably neglected by Outis. 
To attempt the rebutting of a charge of plagiarism 

217 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

by the broad assertion that no such thing as pla- 
giarism exists, is a sottidsm, and no more; but there 
would have been nothing of unreason in rebutting 
the charge, as urged either against Mr. Longfellow, 
Mr. Aldrich, or Mr. Hood, by the proposition that no 
true poet can be guilty of a meanness; that the con- 
verse of this proposition is a contradiction in terms. 
Should there be found any one willing to dispute with 
me this point, I would decline the disputation on the 
ground that my arguments are no arguments lb bhw 

It appears to me that what seems to be the gross 
inconsistency of plagiarism as perpetrated by a poet, 
is very easily thtxs resolved: the poetic sentiment 
(even without reference to the poetic power) implies 
a peculiarly, perhaps an abnormally, keen apprecia- 
tion of the beautiful, with a longing for its assimila- 
tion, or absorption, into the poetic identity. What 
the poet intensely admires becomes thtxs, in very fact, 
although only partially, a portion of his own intellect 
It has a secondary origination within his own soul, an 
origination altogether apart, although springing from 
its primary origination from without. The poet is 
thtxs possessed by another's thought, and cannot be 
said to take of it, possession. But, in either view, he 
thoroughly feels it as his own^ and this feeling is 
cotmteracted only by the sensible presence of its true, 
palpable origin in the voltxme from which he has 
derived it, — ^an origin which, in the long lapse of yean 

2t8 



Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists 

it is almost impossible not to f orget, for in the mean- 
time the thouglit itself is forgotten. But the frailest 
association will regenerate it; it springs up with all 
the vigor of a new Urth; its absolute originality is 
not even a matter of stxspidon; and when the poet 
has written it and printed it, and on its account is 
charged with plagiarism, there will be no one in the 
world more entirely astounded than himself. Now, 
from what I have said it will be evident that the 
liability to accidents of this character is in the direct 
ratio of the poetic sentiment, of the susceptibility to 
the poetic impression ; and, in fact, all literary history 
demonstrates that, for the most frequent and palpable 
plagiarisms, we must search the works of the most 
eminent poets. 




219 



Mr. Longfellow, Mr, Willis, 
and the Drama 

I BIOGRAPHIST of Berryer calls him f 
bomme qui, danm sa dcMcription demaade 
le plat graade qaantiti poBaSble d'aoH- 
tJAwCf but that ever recaning topic, the decline of 
the drama, seems to have consnmed, of late, more 
of the material in question than would have sufficed 
for a dozen prime ministers, even admitting them to 
be French. Eveiy trick of thoug^ht and every haile- 
quinade of phrase have been put in operation for the 
purpose dt aier ee qui ett, et d'expUquer ce qui n'eat 
pat. 

Cc qui n'ttt pat I tat the drama has not declined. 
The facts and the philosophy of the case seem to be 
these. The great opponent to progress is conserva- 
tism. In other words, the great adversary of in- 
vention is Imitation: the propositions are in spirit 
identicaL Just as an art is imitative, is it stationary. 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

The most imitative arts are the most prone to repose ; 
and the converse. Upon the utilitarian, upon the busi- 
ness arts, where necessity impels, invention, necessity's 
well-understood offspring, is ever in attendance. And 
the less we see of the mother the less we behold of 
the child. No one complains of the decline of the 
art of engineering. Here the reason, which never 
retrogrades, or reposes, is called into play. But let us 
g^ce at sculpture. We are not worse here than the 
ancients, let pedantry say what it may (the Venus of 
Canova is worth, at any time, two of that of Cleom- 
enes), but it is equally certain that we have made, 
in general, no advances; and sculpture, properly con* 
sidered, is perhaps the most imitative of all arts which 
have a ti^t to the title of art at all. Looking next at 
painting, we find that we have to boast at progress 
only in the ratio of the inferior imitativeness of paint« 
ing when compared with sculpture. As far, indeed, 
as we have any means of judging, our improvement 
has been exceedingly Uttle, and did we know anything 
of ancient art, in this department, we might be aston- 
ished at discovering that we had advanced even far 
less than we suppose. As regards architecture, 
whatever p ro g ress we have made has been precisely 
in those particulars which have no reference to imi- 
tation; that is to say, we have improved the utilita- 
rian and not the ornamental provinces of the art 
Where reason predominated, we advanced; where 

321 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

mere feeling or taste was the guide, we remained as 
we were. 

Coming to the drama, we shall see that in its 
mechanisms we have made progress, while in its 
spirituality we have done little or nothing for centuries 
certainly, and, perhaps, little or nothing for thou- 
sands of years. And this is because what we term 
the sinrituality of the drama is precisely its imitative 
portion, is exactly that portion which distinguishes it 
as one of the principal of the imitative arts. 

Sculptors, painters, dramatists, are, from the very 
nature of their material, their spiritual material, imi- 
tators, conservatists, prone to repose in old feeling 
and in antique taste. For this reason, and for this 
reason only, the arts of sculpture, painting, and the 
drama, have not advanced, or have advanced feebly, 
and inversely in the ratio of their imitativeness. 

But it by no means follows that either has declined. 
All seem to have declined, becatxse they have remained 
stationary while the multitudinotxs other arts (of rea- 
son) have flitted so rapidly by them. In the same 
manner the traveller by railroad can imagine that 
the trees by the wayside are retrograding. The trees 
in this case are absolutely stationary, but the drama 
has not been altogether so, althou|^ its progress has 
been so slight as not to interfere with the general 
effect, that of seeming retrogradation or decline. 

This seeming r e trogradation, however, is to all prao-* 

322 



ll.'Jf .''■ Io'-..k!;y- 



I 



L. 



tlie sw 



Nathaniel P. Willis. 



1 • 



•"♦1 



lid' 



' I- 



\. 



tilt 



t • 



« 






i:. 



t V 



«•« 



r.J 



>. 1 ,1 






Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

tical intents an absolute one. Whether the drama 
has declined, or whether it has merely remained 
stationary, is a point of no importance, so far as con- 
cerns the pubUc encouragement of the drama. It is 
unsupported, in either case, because it does not de« 
senre support. 

But if this stagnation, or deterioration, grows out 
of the very idiosyncrasy of the drama itself, as one 
of the principal of the imitatiye arts, how is it possible 
that a remedy shall be applied, since it is clearly im- 
possible to alter the nature of the art, and yet leave it 
the art which it now is ? 

We have already spoken of the improvements 
effected in architecture, in all its utilitarian depart- 
ments, and in the drama at all the points of its 
mechanism. ** Wherever reason predominates we ad- 
vance; where mere feeling or taste is the guide, we 
renudn as we are." We wish now to suggest that, 
by the engrafting of reason upon feeling or taste, we 
shall be able, and thus alone shall be able, to force 
the modem drama into the production of any profit- 
able fruit 

At present, what is it we do ? We are content if, 
with feeling and taste, a dramatist does as other 
dramatists have done. The most successful of the 
more immediately modem playwrights has been 
Sheridan Knowles, and to play Sheridan Knowles 
seems to be the highest ambition of our writers for 

223 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

the stage. Now the author of Tbe Huacbback pos- 
sesses what we are weak enough to term the true 
''dramatic feeling"; and this true dramatic feeling 
he has manifested in the most preposterous series of 
imitations of the Elizabethan drama by which ever 
mankind were insulted and beguiled. Not only did 
he adhere to the old plots, the old characters, the old 
stage conventionalities throughout, but he went even 
so far as to persist in the obsolete phraseologies of the 
Elizabethan period, and just in proportion to his ob- 
stinacy and absurdity at all points did we pretend to 
like him the better, and pretend to consider him a 
good dramatist 

Pretend — ^for every particle of it was pretence. 
Never was enthusiasm more utterly false than that 
which so many " respectable audiences " endeavored 
to get up for these plays — endeavored to get up, first, 
because there was a general desire to see the drama 
revive ; and, secondly, because we had been all along 
entertaining the fancy that " the decline of the drama '* 
meant little, if anything, else than its deviation from 
the Elizabethan routine, and that, consequently, the 
return to the Elizabethan routine was, and of necessity 
mtxst be, the revival of the drama. 

But if the principles we have been at some trouble in 
explaining are true, — ^and most profoundly do we feel 
them to be so, — ^if the spirit of imitation is, in fact, the 
real source of the drama's stagnation, and if it is so 

224 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

because of fhe tendency in all imitation to render 
reason subservient to feeling and to taste, it is clear 
that only by deliberate counteracting of the spiriti 
and of the tendency of the spirit, we can hope to 
succeed in the drama's revivaL 

The first thing necessary is to bum or bury the 
<< old models," and to forget, as quickly as possible, 
that ever a play has been penned. The second thing 
is to consider de noro what are the capabilities of 
the drama, not merely what hitherto have been its 
conventional purposes. The third and last point has 
reference to fhe composition of a play (showing to 
the fuUest extent these capabilities) conceived and 
constructed with feeling and with taste, but with 
feeling and taste guided and controlled in every par- 
ticular by the details of reason, of common sense 
— ^in a word, of natural art 

It is obvious, in the meantime, that toward the good 
end in view much may be effected by discriminative 
criticism on what has already been done. The field, 
thus stated, is of course practically illimitable, and to 
Americans tiie American drama is the special point of 
interest. We propose, therefore, in a series of papers, 
to take a somewhat deliberate survey of some few of 
the most noticeable American plays. We shall do this 
without reference either to the date of the compo- 
sition, or its adaptation for the closet or the stage. 
We shall speak with absolute frankness both of merits 

VOL. TIIl.^-15. 2 2 C 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

and defects, our principal object being understood not 
as that of mere commentary on the individual play, 
but on the drama in general, and on the American 
drama in espedal, of which each individual play is a 
constituent part We will commence at once with 



*<TORTBSil, THE USURER" 

This is the third dramatic attempt of Mr. Willis, 
and may be regarded as particulariy successful, since 
it has received, both on the stage and in the doset, 
no stinted measure of commendation. This success, 
as well as the high reputation of the author, will 
justify txs in a more extended notice of the play than 
might, under other circumstances, be desirable. 

The story runs thtxs : Tortesa, an usurer of Florence, 
and whose character is a mingled web of good and 
evil feelings, gets into his possession the palace and 
lands of a certain Coimt Falcone. The usurer would 
wed the daughter (Isabella) of Falcone not through 
love, but, in his own words. 

To plesse a devil that inhaUti him; 

in fact, to mortify the pride of the nobility, and avenge 
himself of their scorn. He therefore bargains with 
Falcone (a narrow-souled villain) for the hand of 
Isabella. The deed of the Falcone property is restored 
to the Count upon an agreement that the lady shall 
marry the usurer, this contract being invalid should 

226 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 



Falcone change his mind in regard to the marriagei 
or should the maiden demur, but valid should the 
wedding be prevented throu|^ any fault of Tortesa, 
or through any accident not springing from the will 
of the father or child. The first scene makes us 
aware of this bargain, and introduces us to Zippa, a 
glover's daui^ter, who resolves, with a view of be- 
friending Isabella, to feign a love for Tortesa (which, 
in fact, she partially feels), hoping thus to break off 
the match. 

The second scene makes us acquainted with a young 
painter (Angdo), poor, but of high talents and ann 
Ution, and with his servant (Tomaso), an old bottle- 
loving rascal, entertaining no very exalted opinion of 
his master's abilities. Tomaso does some injury to a 
picture, and Angdo is about to run him through the 
body, when he is interrupted by a sudden visit from 
the Duke of Florence, attended by Falcone. The 
Duke is enraged at the murderous attempt, but ad- 
mires the paintings in the studio. Finding that the 
rage of the great man will prevent his patronage if 
he knows the aggressor as the artist, Angdo passes 
off Tomaso as himself (Angelo), making an exchange 
of names. This is a pdnt of some importance, as it 
introduces the true Angdo to a job which he had long 
coveted, the painting of the portrait of Isabella, of 
idiose beauty he had become enamored through re- 
port The Duke wishes the portrait painted. Falcone, 

327 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

however, on account of a promise to Tortesa, would 
have objected to admit to his daughter's presence the 
handsome Angeio, but in regard to Tomaso has no 
scruple. Supposing Tomaso to be Angelo and the 
artist, the Count writes a note to Isabella, requiring 
her to ** admit the painter Angelo." The real Angelo 
is thus admitted* He and the lady love at first sight 
(much in the manner of Romeo and Juliet), each 
ignorant of the other's attachment 

The third scene of the second act is occupied with a 
conversation between Falcone and Tortesa, during 
which a letter arrives from the Duke, who, having 
heard of the intended sacrifice of Isabella, offers to 
redeem the Count's lands and palace, and desires him 
to preserve his daughter for a certain Count Julian. 
But Isabella, who, before seeing Angelo, had been will- 
ing to sacrifice herself for her father's sake, and who, 
since seeing him, had entertained hopes of escaping the 
hateful match through means of a plot entered into by 
herself and Zippa, — Isabella, we say, is now in despair. 
To gain time, she at once feigns a love for the usurer, 
and indignantly rejects the proposal of the Duke. The 
hour for the wedding draws near. The lady has 
prepared a sleeping potion, whose effects resemble 
those of death (Romeo and Juliet). She swallows it, 
knowing that her supposed corpse would lie at night, 
pursuant to an old custom, in the sanctuary of the 
cathedral ; and believing that Angelo, whose love for 

228 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 



herself she had eUcited, by a stratagem, from his own 
lipS| will watch by the body, in the strength of his devo- 
tion. Her ultimate design (we may suppose, for it is 
not told) is to confess all to her lover, on her revival, 
and throw herself upon his protection, their marriage 
being concealed, and herself regarded as dead by the 
world. Zippa, who really loves Angela— (her love for 
Tortesa, it must be understood, is a very equivocal 
feeling, for the fact cannot be denied that Mr. Willis 
makes her love both at the same time) — Zippa, who 
really loves Angelo, who has discovered his passion 
for Isabella, and who, as well as that lady, believes 
that the painter will watch the corpse in the cathedral, 
determines, through jealousy, to prevent his so doing, 
and with this view informs Tortesa that she has learned 
it to be Angelo's design to steal the body for artistical 
purposes, in short, as a model to be used in his studio. 
The usurer, in consequence, sets a guard at the doors 
of the cathedral. This guard does, in fact, prevent 
the lover from watching the corpse, but, it appears, 
does not prevent the lady, on her revival and disap- 
pointment in not seeing the one she sought, from 
passing unperceived from the church. Weakened by 
her long sleep, she wanders aimlessly through the 
streets, and at length finds herself, when just sinking 
with exhaustion, at the door of her father. She has 
no recourse but to knock. The Count, who here, we 
must say, acts very much as Thimble of old, — ^the 

229 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

kniC^ we mean, of tlie ** scidding wife,** — fnaintaimi 
tiiat she is dead, and shuts tlie door in her face. Li 
other words, he supposes it to be the ^ost of his 
dauf^tter who speaks; and so the lady is left to perish 
on the steps. Meantime Angeio is absent from home, 
atten^ting to gist access to the cathedral; and his 
serrant Tomaso takes the opportunity of absenting 
himself also, and of indulging his bibulous propen- 
sities ^idiile perambulating the town. He finds Isabella 
as we left her; and throug|i motives wbidi we will 
leave Mr. Willis to explain, conducts her unresistingly 
to Angdo's readence, and — depoats her in Angelo's 
bed. The artist now returns, Tomaso is kicked out 
of doors, and we are not told, but left to presume, 
that a full explanation and perfect understanding are 
brought about between the lady and her lover. 

We find them, next morning, in the studio, where 
stands, leaning against an easel, the portrait (a full 
length) of Isabella, with curtains adjusted before it. 
The stage-directions, moreover, inform us that ** the 
back wall of the room is such as to form a natural 
ground for the picture.** While Angeio is occupied in 
retouching it, he is interrupted by the arrival of Tor- 
tesa with a guard, and is accused of having stolen the 
corpse from the sanctuary, the lady, meanwhile, hav- 
ing stepped behind the curtain. The usurer insists 
upon seeing the painting, with a view of ascertaining 
whether any new touches had been put upon it, which 

230 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

would argue an examixiatioii, post mortem, of those 
charms of neefc and bosom which the living Isabella 
would not have unveiled. Resistance is vain, the cur- 
tain is torn down; but to the surprise of Angelo, the 
lady herself is discovered, ** with her hands crossed 
on her breast, and her eyes fixed on the ground, stand- 
ing motionless in the frame which had contained the 
picture.** The tableau, we are to believe, deceives 
Tortesa, who steps back to contemplate what he sup- 
poses to be the portrait of his betrothed. In the mean- 
time the guards, having searched the house, find the 
veil which had been thrown over the imagined corpse 
in the sanctuary; and, upon titds evidence, the artist 
is carried before the Duke. Here he is accused, not 
only of sacrilege, but of the murder of Isabella, and is 
about to be condemned to death, when his mistress 
comes forward in person, thus resigning herself to 
the usurer to save the life of her lover. But the 
nobler nature of Tortesa now breaks forth; and, 
smitten with admiration of the lady's conduct, as well 
as convinced that her love for himself was feigned, 
he resigns her to Angelo, although now feeling and 
acknowledging for the first time that a fervent love 
has, in his own bosom, assumed the place of this 
misanthropic ambition which, hitherto, had alone 
actuated him in seeking her hand. Moreover, he 
endows Isabella with the lands of her father, Falcone. 
The lovers are thus made happy. The usurer weds 

231 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

Zippa; and the curtain drops upon the promise of the 
Duke to honor the double nuptials with his presence. 

This story, as we have given it, hangs better to- 
gether (Mr. Willis will pardon otir modesty) and is 
altogether more easily comprehended than in the 
words of the play itself. We have really put the 
best face on the matter, and presented the whole in 
the simplest and clearest light in our power. We 
mean to say that Toriesa (partaking largely, in 
this respect, of the drama of Cervantes and Calderon) 
is over-clouded, rendered misty, by a world of un- 
necessary and impertinent intrigue. This folly was 
adopted by the Spanish comedy, and is imitated by 
us with the idea of imparting " action," ^* business," 
^' vivacity." But vivacity, however desirable, can be 
attained in many other ways, and is dearly purchased, 
indeed, when the price is intelligibility. 

The truth is that cant has never attained a more 
owl-like dignity than in the discusdon of dramatic 
principle. A modem stage critic is nothing if not a 
lofty contemner of all things simple and direct. He 
delights in mystery, revels in mystification, has trans- 
cendental notions concerning P. S. and O. P., and 
talks about '* stage business and stage effect " as if 
he were discussing the differential calculus. For much 
of all this we are indebted to the somewhat over-pro- 
found criticisms of Augustus William Schlegel. 

But the dicta of common sense are of universal 

23a 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

application, and, touching ttds matter of intrigue, if, 
from its superabundance, we are compelled, even in 
the quiet and critical perusal of a play, to pause fre- 
quently and reflect long, to re-read passages over and 
over again, for the purpose of gathering their bearing 
upon the whole, of maintaining in our mind a general 
connection, what but fatigue can result from the ex- 
ertion ? How then when we come to the represen- 
tation? when these passages, trifling, perhaps, in 
themselves, but important when considered in rela- 
tion to the plot, are hurried and blurred over in the 
stuttering enunciation of some miserable rantipole, or 
omitted altogether through the constitutional loss of 
memory so peculiar to those lights of the age and 
stage, bedight (from being of no conceivable use) 
supernumeraries? For it must be borne in mind 
that these bits of intrigue (we use the term in the 
sense of the German critics) appertain generally, in- 
deed altogether, to the afterthoughts of the drama, 
to the underplots ; are met with, consequentiy, in the 
mouth of the lackeys and chamber-maids; and are 
thus consigned to the tender mercies of the stelbe 
minores* Of course we get but an imperfect idea of 
what is going on before our eyes. Action after action 
ensues whose mystery we cannot unlock without the 
littie key which these barbarians have thrown away 
and lost. Our weariness increases in proportion to 
the number of these embarrassments, and if the play 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

escape dainnation at all, it escapes in spite of that 
intrigue to which, in nine cases out of ten, the author 
attributes his success, and which he will persist in 
valuing exactly in proportion to the misapplied labor 
it has cost him. 

But dramas of this kind are said, in our customary 
parlance, to ^* abound in plot" We have never yet 
met any one, however, who could tell us what precise 
ideas- he connected with the phrase. A mere suc- 
cession of incidents, even the most spirited, will no 
more constitute a plot than a multiplication of zeros, 
even the most infinite, will result in the production of 
a unit. This all will admit ; but few trouble themselves 
to think further. The common notion seems to be 
in favor of mere complexity ; but a plot, properly un- 
derstood, is perfect only inasmuch as we shall find 
ourselves unable to detach from it or disarrange any 
single incident involved, without destruction to the 
mass. This we say is the point of perfection, a point 
never yet attained, but not on that account unattain- 
able. Practically, we may consider a plot as of high 
excellence when no one of its component parts shall 
be susceptible of removal without detriment to the 
whole. Here, indeed, is a vast lowering of the de- 
mand, and with less than this no writer of refined 
taste should content himself. 

As this subject is not only in itself of great impor- 
tance, but will have at all points a bearing upon 

234 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

yfrbat we shall say hereafter, in the examination of 
▼arious plays, we shall be pardoned for quoting from 
the Demoeraik Reriew some passages (of our own) 
which enter more particularly into the rationale of 
the subject: 

** All the Bridgewater treatises have failed in notic- 
ing the great idiosyncrasy in the Divine system of 
adaptation, that idiosyncrasy which stamps the adap- 
tation as Divine, in distinction from that which is 
the work of merely human constructiveness. I speak 
of the complete mutuality of adaptation. For exam- 
ple: In human constructions, a particular cause has 
a particular effect, a particular purpose brings about 
a particular object; but we see no reciprocity. The 
effect does not react upon the cause, the object does 
not change relations with the purpose. In Divine con- 
structions, the object is either object or purpose as 
we choose to regard it, while the purpose is either 
purpose or object; so that we can never (abstractly, 
without concretion, without reference to facts of the 
moment) decide which is which. 

''For secondary example: In polar dimates, the 
human frame, to maintain its animal heat, requires, 
for combustion in the capillary system, an abundant 
supply of highly azotized food, such as train-oiL 
Again: In polar climates neariy the sole food afforded 
man is the oil of abundant seals and whales. Now 
whether is oil at hand because imperatively demanded, 

ass 



Lrongfellowi Willis, and the Drama 

or whether is it the only thing demanded because the 
only thing to be obtained ? It is impossible to say; 
there is an absolute reciprocity of adaptation for which 
we seek in vain among the works of man. 

'* The Bridgewater tractists may have avoided this 
point, on account of its apparent tendency to over- 
throw the idea of cause in general, consequently of 
a First Cause, of God. But it is more probable that 
they have failed to perceive what no one preceding 
them has, to my knowledge, perceived. 

'^ The pleasure which we derive from any exertion 
of hmnan ingenuity is in the direct ratio of the ap- 
proach to this species of reciprocity between cause and 
effect. In the construction of plot, for example, in 
fictitious literature, we should aim at so arranging 
the points, or incidents, that we cannot distinctly see, 
in respect to any one of them, whether that one de- 
pends from any one other or upholds it. In this sense, 
of course, perfection of plot is unattainable in fact; 
because man is the constructor. The plots of God 
are perfect. The universe is a plot of God." 

The pleasure derived from the contemplation of the 
unity resulting from plot is far more intense than is 
ordinarily supposed, and, as in nature we meet with 
no such combination of incident, appertains to a very 
lofty region of the ideal. In speaking thus we have 
not said that plot is more than an adjunct to the 
drama, more than a perfectly distinct and separable 

236 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

source of pleasure. It is not an essential. In its in« 
tense artificiality it may even be conceived injurious 
in a certain degree (unless constructed with consum- 
mate skill) to that real life-likeness which is the soul 
of the drama of character. Good dramas have been 
written with very little plot; capital dramas might be 
written with none at alL Some plays of high merit, 
having plot, abound in irrelevant incident, — ^in inci- 
dent, we mean, which could be displaced or removed 
altogether without effect upon the plot itself, and yet 
are by no means objectionable as dramas; and for 
this reason, that the incidents are evidently irrelevant, 
obviously episodical. Of their digressive nature the 
spectator is so immediately aware that he views them, 
as they arise, in the simple light of interlude, and 
does not fatigue his attention by attempting to estab- 
lish for them a connection, or more than an illustrative 
connection, with the great interests of the subject. 
Such are the plays of Shakespeare. But all this is 
very different from that irrelevancy of intrigue which 
disfigures and very usually damns the work of the 
unskilful artist. With him the great error lies in in- 
consequence. Underplot is piled upon underplot (the 
very word is a paradox), and all to no purpose, to no 
end. The interposed incidents have no ultimate effect 
upon the main ones. They may hang upon the mass, 
they may even coalesce with it, or, as in some intricate 
cases, they may be so intimately blended as to be lost 

237 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

amid the chaos wbidi they have been instrumental in 
bringing about; but still they have no portion in the 
plot, which exists, if at all, independently of their in- 
fluence. Yet the attempt is made by the author to 
establish and demonstrate a dependence, an identity; 
and it is the obviousness of this attempt which is the 
cause of weariness in the spectator, who, of course, 
cannot at once see that his attention is challenged to 
no purpose, that intrigues so obtrudvely forced upon 
it are to be found, in the end, without effect upon 
the leading interests of the play. 

Tortesa will afford us plentiful examples of this ir- 
relevancy of intrigue, of this misconception of the 
nature and of the capacities of plot. We have said 
that our digest of the story is more easy of compre- 
hension than the detail of Mr. Willis. H so, it is 
because we have forborne to give such portions as 
had no influence upon the whole. These served but 
to embarrass the narrative and fatigue the attention. 
How much was irrelevant is shown by the brevity 
of the space in which we have recorded, somewhat 
at length, all the influential incidents of a drama of 
flve acts. There is scarcely a scene in which is not 
to be found the germ of an underplot, — ^a germ, how- 
ever, which seldom proceeds beyond the condition of 
a bud, or, if so fortunate as to swell into a flower, 
arrives, in no single instance, at the dignity of fruit. 
Zippa, a lady altogether without character (dramatic), 

238 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

is the most peitinadous of all conceivable concocteis 
of plans never to be matured, of vast designs that 
tenninate in nothing, of cuMe^'sac machinations. 
She plots in one page and counterplots in the next. 
She schemes her way from P. S. to O. P., and intrigues 
perseveringly from the footlights to the slips. A very 
mngular instance of the inconsequence of her man- 
oeuvres is found toward the conclusion of the play. 
The whole of the second scene (occupying five pages) 
in the fifth act, is obviously introduced for the pur- 
pose of giving her information, through Tomaso's 
means, of Angelo's arrest for the mimler of Isabella. 
Upon learning his danger she rushes from the stage 
to be present at the trial, exclaiming that her evidence 
can save his life. We, the audience, of course ap- 
plaud, and now look with interest to her movements 
in the scene of the judgment halL She, Zippa, we 
think, is somebody after all; she will be the means 
of Angdo's salvation; she will thus be the chief un- 
raveller of the plot. All eyes are bent, therefore, upon 
Zippa; but alas! upon the point at issue Zippa does 
not so much as open her mouth. It is scarcely too 
much to say that not a single action of this imperti- 
nent little busybody has any real infiuence upon the 
play; yet she appears upon every occasion, appearing 
only to perplex. 

Similar things abound; we should not have space 
even to allude to them alL The whole conclusion of 

239 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

the play is supererogatory. The immensity of pure 
fuss with which it is overloaded forces us to the re- 
flection that all of it mig^t have been avmded by one 
word of explanation to the Duke, an amiable man 
who admires the talents of Angdo, and who, to pre- 
vent Isabella's marrying against her will, had pre- 
viously offered to free Falcone of his bonds to the 
usurer. That he would free him now, and thus set 
all matters straight, the spectator cannot doubt for 
an instant, and he can conceive no better reason why 
explanations are not made than that Mr. Willis does 
not think proper they should be. In fact, the whole 
drama is exceedingly ill tnotivirt 

We have already mentioned an inadvertence, in the 
fourth act, where Isabella is made to escape from the 
sanctuary through the midst of guards who prevented 
the ingress of Angelo. Another occurs ^^ere Fal- 
cone's conscience is made to reprove him, upon the 
appearance of his daughter's supposed ghost, for hav- 
ing occasioned her death by forcing her to many 
against her wilL The author had forgotten that 
Falcone submitted to the wedding, after the Duke's 
interposition, only upon Isabella's assurance that she 
really loved the usurer. In the third scene, too, of 
the first act, the imagination of the spectator is no 
doubt a little taxed, when he finds Angelo, in the 
first moment of his introduction to the palace of 
Iflflbi*iiiiy commencing her portrait by laying on color 

340 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

after color, before he has made any attempt at an 
outline. In, the last act, moreover, Tortesa gives to 
Isabella a deed 

Of the Falcone palaces and lands, 
And all the money forfeit by Falcone. 

This is a terrible blunder, and the more important as 
upon this act of the usurer depends the development of 
his new-bom sentiments of honor and virtue— depends, 
in fact, the most salient point of the play. Tortesa, we 
say, gives to Isabella the lands forfeited by Falcone; 
but Tortesa was surely not very generous in giving 
what, clearly, was not his own to give. Falcone had 
not forfeited the deed, which had been restored to 
him by the usurer, and which was then in his (Fal- 
cone's) possession. Hear Tortesa: 

He put it in the bond. 
That if, by any humor of my own. 
Or accident that came not from himself, 
Or from his daughter's will, the match were marred, 
IDs tenure stood intact. 

How Falcone is still resolute for the match; but 
this new, generous '* humor '* of Tortesa induces him 
(Tortesa) to decline it. Falcone's tenure is then in- 
tact; he retains the deed, the usurer is giving away 
property not his own. 

As a drama of character Tortesa is by no means 
open to so many objections as when we view it in 
the light of its plot; but it is still faulty. The merits 

▼OL. Till.— s6. 2AI 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

are so exceedingly negative that it is difficult to say 
anything about them. The Duke is nobody; Falcone, 
nothing; Zippa, less than nothing. Angelo may be 
regarded simply as the medium through which Mr. 
Willis conveys to the reader his own glowing feelings, 
his own refined and delicate fancy (delicate, yet bold), 
his own rich voluptuousness of sentiment, a volup- 
tuousness which would offend in almost any other 
language than that in which it is so skilfully apparelled. 
Isabella is — ^the heroine of The Hanebback The revo- 
lution in the character of Tortesa, or rather the final 
triumph of his innate virtue, is a dramatic pdnt far 
older than the hills. It may be observed, too, that 
although the representation of no human character 
should be quarrelled with for its inconsistenqr, we 
yet require that the inconsistencies be not absolute 
antagonisms to the extent of neutralization ; they may 
be permitted to be oils and waters, but they must not 
be alkalies and adds. When, in the course of the 
dinotMtment, the usurer burst forth into an eloquence 
virtue-inspired, we cannot sympathize very heartily in 
his fine speeches, since they proceed from the mouth 
of the selfsame egotist who, urged by a disgusting 
vanity, uttered so many sottidsms (about his fine legs, 
etc.) in the earlier passages of the play. Tomaso is, 
upon the whole, the best personage. We recognize 
some originality in his conception, and conception was 
seldom more admirably carried out 

343 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

One or two observations at random. In the tiiird 
scene of the fifth act, Tomaso, the buffoon, is made 
to assume paternal authority oyer Isabella (as usual, 
without sufficient purpose) by virtue of a law which 
Tortesa thus expounds : 

My gracious liege, there is a law in Florence, 
That if a father, for no guilt or shsme. 
Disown and shut his door upon his daughter. 
She is the child of him who succors her. 
Who by the shelter of s single night 
Becomes endowed with the authority 
Lost by the other. 



No one, of course, can be made to believe that any 
such stupid law as this ever existed either in Florence 
or limbuctoo; but, on the ground que k rral n'ewt 
paB toufoan le rraiBemblabte, we say that even its 
real existence would be no justification of Mr. Willis. 
It has an air of the far-fetched, of the desperate, 
which a fine taste will avoid as a pestilence. Very 
much of the same nature is the attempt of Tortesa 
to extort a second bond from Falcone. The evidence 
which convicts Angelo of murder is ridiculously frail. 
The idea of Isabella's flggwmifig the place of the por- 
trait, and so deceiving the usurer, is not only glar- 
ingly improbable, but seems adopted from the Winter^g 
Tale. But in this latter play the deception is at least 
possible, for the human figure but imitates a statue. 
What, however, are we to make of Mr. W.*s stage 

"43 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

direction about the back walls being ** so arranged as 
to form a natural ground for the jdcture " ? Of 
course, the very slightest movement of Tortesa (and 
he makes many) would have annihilated the illusion 
by disarranging the perq>ective; and in no manner 
could this latter have been arranged at all for more 
than one particular point of view; in other words, 
for more than one particular person in the whole 
audience. The ** asides," moreover, are unjustifiably 
frequent The prevalence of this folly (of speaking 
aside) detracts as much from the acting merit of our 
drama generally as any other inartisticality. It 
utterly destroys verisimilitude. People are not in the 
haUt of soliloquizing aloud — ^at least, not to any 
positive extent; and why should an author have to 
be told, whBt the slightest reflection would teach him, 
that an audience, by dint of no imagination, can or 
will conceive that what is sonorous in their own ears 
at the distance of fifty feet cannot be heard by an 
actor at the distance of one or two ? 

Having spoken thus of TorieBa in terms of nearly 
unmitigated censure, our readers may be surprised to 
hear us say that we think highly of the drama as a 
whole, and have littie hesitation in ranking it before 
most of the dramas of Sheridan Knowles. Its lead- 
ing faults are those of the modem drama generally; 
they are not peculiar to itself, while its great merits 
are. If in support of our opinions we do not dta 

244 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 



points of commendation, it is because these f onn the 
mass of the work. And were we to speak of fine 
passages, we should speak of the entire play. Nor 
by ** fine passages " do we mean passages of merely 
fine language, embodying fine sentiment, but such as 
are replete with truthfulness, and teem with the lofti- 
est qualities of the dramatic art. Points, capital points 
abound; and these have far more to do with the gen- 
eral excellence of a play than a too speculative criti- 
cism has been willing to admit Upon the whole, we 
are proud of Toriesa, and here again, for the fiftieth 
time at least, record our warm admiration of the 
abifities of Mr. Willis. 
We proceed now to Mr. Longfellow's 

" SPANISH STUDENT " 

The reputation of its author as a poet, and as a 
graceful writer of prose, is, of course, long and de- 
servedly established, but as a dramatist he was un- 
known before the publication of this play. Upon its 
original appearance, in Grai^ain'a Magazine, the gen- 
eral opinion was greatly in favor, if not exactly of 
The Spanish Student^ at all events of the writer of 
OutreMer* But this general opinion is the most 
equivocal thing in the world. It is never self-formed. 
It has very seldom indeed an original devdopment. 
In regard to the work of an already famous or in- 
famous author it decides, to be sure, with a laudaUe 

245 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

promirtitiide, nuddng up all llie ndnd fluit it has, 
by reference to llie reception of Hie aodior's im- 
mediately pr e vious publication; making up thus tbe 
g^ost of a mind pro tegtL, a species of critical shadow, 
that fully answers, nevertheless, all the purposes of 
a substance itself, until the substance itself shall be 
forthcoming. But, beyond this point, the general 
opinion can only be considered that of the public, 
as a man may call a book his, having bought it. 
When a new writer arises, the shop of the true, 
thoughtful, or critical opinion is not simultaneoudy 
thrown away, is not immediately set op. Some weeks 
elapse; and, during this interval, the public, at a 
loss where to procure an opinion of the dibatanie, 
have necessarily no opinion of him at all, for the 
nonce. 

The popular voice, then, which ran so much in 
favor of The Spanish Student, upon its original issue, 
should be looked upon as merely the ghost pro teot, 
as based upon critical decisions respecting the pre- 
vious works of the author, as having reference in no 
manner to The Spanltb Student itself, and thus as 
utteriy meanin^ess and valueless per ee* 

The few, by which we mean those who think, in 
contradistinction from the many who think they think, 
the few who think at first hand, and thus twice be- 
fore speaking at all, — ^these received the play with a 
commendation somewhat less pronotMoUt somewhat 

246 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

more guardedly qualified, than Professor Longfellow 
might have desired, or may have been taught to ex- 
pect. Still the composition was approved upon the 
whole. The few words of censure were very far, in- 
deed, from amounting to condemnation. The chief 
defect insisted upon was the feebleness of the denoue^ 
mentg and, generally, of the concluding scenes, as 
compared with the opening passages. We are not 
sure, however, that anything like detailed criticism 
has been attempted in the case, nor do we propose 
now to attempt it. Nevertheless, the work has in- 
terest, not only within itself, but as the first dramatic 
effort of an author who has remarkably succeeded in 
almost every other department of light literature than 
that of the drama. It may be as well, therefore, to 
speak of it, if not analytically, at least somewhat in 
detail; and we cannot, perhaps, more suitably com- 
mence than by a quotation, without comment, of 
some of the finer passages: 

And, though aha is a vixgin outwardly, 
Within aha is a sinner; like those panels 
Of doors and altar-ideces the old nionks 
Painted in convents, with the Virgin Ifszy 
On the outside, and on the inside Venusl 

I believe 
That woman, in her deepest degradation. 
Holds something sacred, sometUng undeflled. 
Some pledge end keepsake of her higher nature, 

247 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

And, like the diamond in the dark, retains 
Some quenchless gleam of the celestial light I 

And we shall sit together unmolested, 

And words of true love pass from tongue to tongue. 

As singing Urds from one bough to another. 

Our feelings and our thoughts 
Tend ever on and rest not in the Present. 
As drops of rain fall into some dark well, 
And from below conies a scarce audible sound. 
So fall our thoughts into the dark Hereafter, 
And their mysterious echo reaches us. 

Her tender limbs are still, and on her breast 
The cross she prayed to, ere she fell asleep. 
Rises or falls with the soft tide of dreams, 
like a light barge safe-moored. 

Hark I how the large and ponderous mace of Time 
Knocks at the golden portals of the day! 

The lady Violante, bathed in tears 
Of love and anger, like the maid of Colchis, 
Whom thou, another faithless Argonaut, 
Having won that golden fleece, a woman's love, 
Desertest for this (Hauc6. 

I read, or sit in revery and watch 

The changing color of the waves that break 

Upon the idle sea-shore of the mind. 

I will forget her. All dear recollections 
Pressed in my heart, like flowers within a book. 
Shall be torn out and scattered to the winds. 

348 



Lrongfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

O yesl I seo it now» 
Yet ntlier with my heart than with mine eyes, 
So faint it is. And all my thoughts sail thither, 
Freighted with prayers and hopes, and forward uxged 
Against all stress of accident, as, in 
The Eastern Tale, against the wind and tide 
Great ships were drawn to the Magnetic Mountains. 

But there are brighter dreams than those of Fame, 

Which are the dreams of Lovel Out of the heart 

Rises the bright ideal of these dreams. 

As from some woodland fount a spirit rises 

And sinks again into its sQent deeps. 

Ere the enamored knight can touch her robe! 

'T is this ideal that the soul of Man, 

Like the enamored knight beside the fountain. 

Waits for upon the margin of Life's stream; 

Waits to behold her rise from the dark waters. 

Clad in a mortal shapel Alas, how many 

Must wait in vain! The stream flows evermore, 

But from its silent deeps no spirit rises 1 

Yet I, bom under a propitious star. 

Have found the bright ideal of my dreams. 

Yes; by the Darro's side 
My childhood passed. I can remember still 
The river, and the mountains capped with snow; 
The Tillages where, yet a little child, 
I told the traveller's fortune in the street; 
The smuggler's horse, the brigand and the shepherd; 
The march across the moor; the halt at noon; 
The red Are of the evening camp, that lighted 
The forest where we slept; and, further back, 

349 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

As in a druun, or in lome f onnsr lifep 
Gsrdons snd pn1iM?ft walls* 

Tbifl path will lead ns to it. 
Over the wheat-fields, where the shadows sail 
Across the mnning sea, now green, now blue. 
And, like an idle mariner on the ocean, 
Whistles the quail. 



These extracts will be universally admired. They 
are graceful, well expressed, imaginative, and alto- 
gether replete with the true poetic feeling. We quote 
them now, at the beginning of our review, by way of 
justice to the poet, and because, in what follows, we 
are not sure that we have more than a very few words 
of what may be termed commendation to bestow. 

The Spanish Student has an unfortunate beginning, 
in a most unpardonable, and yet, to render the matter 
worse, in a most indispensable, ** Preface " : 

« The subject of the following play [says Mr. L.] is 
taken in part from the beautiful play of Cervantes, La 
Gitanilla* To this source, however, I am indebted for 
the nudn incident only, the love of a Spanish student 
for a gypsy girl, and the name of the heroine, Predosa. 
I have not followed the story in any of its details. In 
Spain this subject has been twice handled dramatically : 
first by Juan Perez de Montalvan, in La GitaniUa, and 
afterward by Antonio de Soils y Rivadeneira in La 
Ghanilla de Madrid. The same subject has also been 

250 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

made use of by Thomas Mlddleton, an English drama- 
tist of the seventeenth century. His play is called Tie 
Spanhb Gypgy, The main plot is the same as in the 
Spanish pieces; but there runs through it a tragic 
underplot of the loves of Rodrigo and Dofia Clara, 
which is taken from another tale of Cervantes, La 
Puerza de la Sangre. The reader who is acquainted 
with La GitaniUa of Cervantes, and the plays of 
Montalvan, SoUs, and Middleton, will perceive that 
my treatment of the subject differs entirely from 
theirs." 

Now the authorial originality, properly considered, 
is threefold. There is, first, the originality of the 
general thesis ; secondly, that of the several incidents, 
or thoughts, by which the thesis is developed; and, 
thirdly, that of manner, or tone, by which means alone 
an old subject, even when developed through hack- 
neyed incidents, or thoughts, may be made to produce 
a fully original effect, which, after all, is the end truly 
in view. 

But originality, as it is one of the highest, is also 
one of the rarest, of merits. In America it is espec- 
ially, and very remarkably, rare ; — ^this through causes 
sufficiently well understood. We are content per- 
force, therefore, as a general thing, with either of 
the lower branches of originality mentioned above, 
and would regard with high favor, indeed, any author 

251 



LfOngfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

who should supply the great desideratum in comUn- 
ing the three. Still the three should be combined; 
and from whom, if not from such men as Professor 
Longfellow, if not from those who occupy the chief 
niches in our literary Temple, shall we expect the 
combination ? But in the present instance, whst has 
Professor Longfellow accomplished? Is he original 
at any one point ? Is he original in respect to the 
first and most important of our three divisions? 
** The subfect of the following play,'' he says him- 
self, ** is taken in part from the beautiful play of 
Cervantes, La Ghanilhb To this source, however, 
I am indebted for the main ineUent only, the love of 
a Spanish student for a gypsy girl, and the name of 
the heroine, Preciosa.'' 

The italics are our own, and the words italicized 
involve an obvious contradiction. We cannot under- 
stand how " the love of the Spanish student for the 
gypsy girl " can be called an " incident,'' or even a 
<« main incident," at all. In fact, this love, this dis- 
cordant and therefore eventful or incidental love, 
is the true thesis of the drama of Cervantes. It 
is this anomalous ** love " which originates the inci- 
dents by means of which, itself, this ** love," the theas, 
is developed. Having based his play, then, upon this 
** love," we cannot admit his claim to originality upon 
our first count; nor has he any right to say that he 
has adopted his ** subject " ** in part." It is clear 

353 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

that he has adopted it altogether. Nor would he have 
been entitled to claim originality of subject, even had 
he based his story upon any variety of love arisLog 
between parties naturally separated by prejudices of 
caste, such, for example, as those which divide the 
Brahmin from the Pariah, the Ammonite from the 
African, or even the Christian from the Jew. For 
here, in its ultimate analysis, is the real thesis of the 
Spaniard. But when the drama is founded, not 
merely upon this general thesis, but upon this general 
thesis in the identical application given it by Cer- 
vantes, that is to say, upon the prejudice of caste ex- 
emplified in the case of a Catholic, and this Catholic 
a Spaniard, and this Spaniard a student, and this 
student loving a gypsy, and this gypsy a dancing- 
girl, and this dancing-girl bearing the name Predosa, 
we are not altogether prepared to be informed by 
Professor Longfellow that he is indebted for an 
« incident only" to the ''beautiful GHannia of 
Cervantes.** 

Whether our author is original upon our second 
and third points, in the true incidents of his story, 
or in the manner and tone of their handling, will be 
more distinctly seen as we proceed. 

It is to be regretted that The Spanhb Student was 
not sub-entitled ** A Dramatic Poem,'' rather than " A 
Play.'' The former title would have more fully con- 
veyed the intention of the poet; for, of course, we 

3S3 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

shall not do Mr. Longfellow the injustice to suppose 
that his design has been, in any respect, a play, in 
the ordinary acceptation of the term. Whatever 
may be its merits in a merely poetical view, The 
Spanish Student could not be endured upon the stage. 
Its plot runs thus: Preciosa, the daughter of a 
Spanish gentleman, is stolen, while an infant, by 
gypsies; brought up as his own daughter, and as a 
dancing-girl, by a gypsy leader, Cruzado ; and by him 
betrothed to a young gypsy, Bartolom^. At Madrid 
Preciosa loves and is beloved by A^ctorian, a student 
of AlcaUl, who resolves to marry her, notwithstand- 
ing her caste, rumors involving her purity, the dissua- 
sions of his friends, and his betrothal to an heiress 
of Madrid. Preciosa is also sought by the Count of 
Lara, a rouS, She rejects him. He forces his way 
into her chamber, and is there seen by ^ctorian, who, 
misinterpreting some words overheard, doubts the 
fidelity of his mistress, and leaves her in anger, after 
challenging the Count of Lara. In the duel, the 
Count receives his life at the hands of A^ctorian; 
declares his ignorance of the understanding between 
Victorian and Preciosa; boasts of favors received 
from the latter; and, to make good his words, pro- 
duces a ring which she gave him, he asserts, as a 
pledge of her love. This ring is a duplicate of one 
previously given the girl by Victorian, and known to 
have been so given by the Count, ^ctorian mistakes 

254 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

it for his own, believes all that has been said, and 
abandons the field to his rival, who, immediately after- 
ward, while attempting to procure access to the gypsy, 
is assassinated by Bartolom^. Meanwhile, A^ctorian, 
wandering through the country, reaches Gtiadarrama. 
Here he receives a letter from Madrid, disclosing the 
treachery practised by Lara, and telling that Preciosa, 
rejecting his addresses, had been, through his instru- 
mentality, hissed from the stage, and now again 
roamed with the gypsies. He goes in search of her; 
finds her in a wood near Gtiadarrama; approaches 
her, disguising his voice; she recognizes him, pre- 
tending she does not, and unaware that he knows her 
innocence; a conversation of iquiyoque ensues; he 
sees his ring upon her finger; offers to purchase it; 
she refuses to part with it; a full tdairdBsement 
takes place ; at this juncture, a servant of Victorian's 
arrives with ** news from Court," giving the first in- 
timation of the true parentage of Predosa. The lovers 
set out, forthwith, for Madrid to see the newly discov- 
ered father. On the route Bartolom^ dogs their steps ; 
fires at Preciosa ; misses her; the shot is returned; he 
falls; and The Spanhb Student is concluded* 

This plot, however, like that of Tortega looks better 
in our naked digest than amidst the details which 
develop only to disfigure it. The reader of the play 
itself will be astonished, when he remembers the 
name of the author, at the inconsequence of the 

^5S 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 



incidents, at the utter want of skill, of art, manifested 
in their conception and introduction. In dramatic 
writing, no principle is more clear than that nothing 
should be said or done which has not a tendency to 
develop the catastrophe, or the characters. But Mr. 
Longfellow's play abounds in events and conversa- 
tions that have no ostensible purpose, and certainly 
answer no end. In what light, for eaounple, since 
we cannot suppose this drama intended for the stage, 
are we to regard the second scene of the second act, 
where a long dialogue between an archbishop and 
a cardinal is wound up by a dance from Predosa? 
The Pope thinks of abolishing public dances in Spain, 
and the priests in question have been delegated to 
examine, personally, the proprieties or improprieties 
of such exhibitions. With this view, Predosa is sum- 
moned and required to give a specimen of her skilL 
Now this, in a mere spectade, would do very well; 
for here all that is demanded is an occasion jor an 
excuse for a dance; but what business has it in a 
pure drama ? or in what regard does it further the end 
of a dramatic poem intended only to be read ? In 
the same manner, the whole of scene the eighth, in 
the same act, is occupied with six lines of stage 
directions as follows : 

<«The Theatre. The orchestra plays the cachuca. 
Sound of castanets behind the scenes. The curtain 

356 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 



rises, and discovers Preciosa in the attitude of 
commencing the dance. The cachuca. Tumult; 
hisses; cries of *BravaI' and ' Afueral' She fal- 
ters and pauses. The music stops. General con- 
fusion. Preciosa faints." 



But the inconsequence of which we complain will 
be best exemplified by an entire scene. We take scene 
the fourth, act the first: 

^ An inn on the road to AkalL Baha»ar asleep on a 

bench. Enter Chispa, 

Chispa* And here we are, half-way to AlcaUl, be- 
tween cocks and midnight. Body o' mel what an 
inn is thisi The light out and the landlord asleepi 
Hold I ancient Baltasarl 

BaJtaaar ( waUng), Here I am. 

Chiapa, Yes, there you are, like a one-eyed Alcalde 
in a town without inhabitants. Bring a light, and 
let me have supper. 

Baltaaar, Where is your master ? 

Chlapa, Do not trouble yourself about him. We 
have stopped a moment to breathe our horses ; and if 
he chooses to walk up and down in the open air, look- 
ing into the sky as one who hears it rain, that does not 
satisfy my hunger, you know. But be quick, for I am 
in a hurry, and every man stretches his legs according 
to the length of his coverlet What have we here 7 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

Bah9Mar i^etdag a Mghi on the tebfe). Stewed lab- 
liit 

GUfptt (emtiogX Conacience of Portalegrel stewed 
kitten, you meant 

BahtMar^ And a pitcher of Pedro Smenes, with 
a roasted pear in it. 

GUfptt idriaUog) Ancient Baltasar, amfgo I Ton 
know how to cry wine and sell vinegar. I tell you 
this is nothing but Vlao TZolb of La Manchai with a 
tang of the swine-skin. 

Bahaaar, I swear to you hy Saint Simon and Jodas, 
it is all as I say. 

Cbhpa. And I swear to you by Saint PMer and 
Saint Paul, that it is no such thing. Moreo?er, your 
supper is like the hidalgo's dinner, very Uttle meat, 
and a great deal of table-doth. 

Baltasar, Hal hal hal 

Qdapa. And more ndse than nuts. 

BaJtaaar, Hal hal hal Tou must make your joke. 
Master Chispa. But shall I not ask Don Victorian in 
to take a draught of the Pedro Smenes ? 

Qdapa* Ho; you might as well say, * Don't you 
want some ? ' to a dead man. 

Baltaaat, Why does he go so often to Kadrid ? 

Cbiapa* For the same reason that he eats no supper. 
He is in love. Were you ever in love, Baltasar ? 

Bahaaar, I was never out of it, good Chispa. It 
has been the torment of my life. 

258 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

Cbhpa0 Whatl are you on fire, too, old haystack ? 
Why, we shall never be able to put you out. 

Vidorhui ( wHbout). Chispa 1 

CbiBpa* Go to bed, Pero Grullo, for the cocks are 
crowing. 

VktoriaiL Eal Chispal Chispal 

CbiBpa* Eal Sefior. Come with me, ancient Bal- 
tasar, and bring water for the horses. I will pay for 
the supper to-morrow. lEweuat^" 

Now here the question occurs, What is accomplished? 
How has the subject been forwarded ? We did not 
need to learn that Victorian was in love, that was 
known before; and all that we glean is that a stupid 
imitation of Sancho Panza drinks, in the course of 
two minutes (the time occupied in the perusal of the 
scene), a bottte of V2oo Tinto, by way of Pedro 
Zimenes, and devours a stewed kitten in place of a 



In the beginning of the play this Chispa is the valet 
of Victorian; subsequentiy we find him the servant of 
another; and near the denouement he returns to his 
original master. No cause is assigned, and not even 
the shadow of an object is attained; the whole ter- 
giversation being but another instance of the gross 
inconsequence which abounds in the play. 

The author's deficiency of skill is especially evinced 
in the scene of the idaircltsement between Victorian 

259 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

and Preciosa* The former having been enlightened 
respecting the true character of the latter, by means 
of a letter received at Gnadarrama, from a friend at 
Madrid (how wofuliy inartistical is this!), resolves to 
go in search of her forthwith, and forthwith, also, 
discovers her in a wood dose at hand. Whereupon 
he approaches, disguising his voice; yes, we are re- 
quired to believe that a lover may so disguise his 
voice from his mistress as even to render his person 
in full view irrecognizable I He approaches, and, each 
knowing the other, a conversation ensues under the 
hypothesis that each to the other is unknown — ^a veiy 
unoriginal and, of course, a very silly source of 
equivoque, fit only for the gum-elastic imagination of 
an infant. But what we especially complain of here, 
is that our poet should have taken so many and so 
obvious pains to bring about this position of iqui^ 
voque, when it was impossible that it could have served 
any other purpose than that of injuring his intended 
effect I Read, for example, this passage : 

^VictoHaiL Inever loved a maid; 
For she I loved was then a maid no more. 

Preeh&a* How know you that ? 

VietorlaiL A little bird in the air 
Whispered the secret 

Predosa, There, take back your goldl 
Tour hand is cold like a deceiver's hand I 

260 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

There is no blessiiig in its cfaarityl 
Kake her your wife, for you have been abused; 
And you shall mend your fortunes mending hers. 
VktoriatL How like an angel's speaks the tongue 
of woman, 
When pleading in another's cause her ownl " 

How, here it is dear that if we understood Predosa 
to be really ignorant of Victorian's identity, the 
« pleading in another's cause her own " would create 
a favorable impression upon the reader, or spectator. 
But the advice, '* Make her your wife," etc., takes an 
interested and seUBsh turn when we remember that 
die knows to whom die speaks. 

Again, when Victorian says: 

*' That is a pretty ring upon your finger. 
Pray give it mel" 

And when die replies, 

"Ho, never from my hand 
Shall that be taken," 

we are inclined to think her only an artful coquette, 
knowing, as we do, the extent of her knowledge; on 
the other hand, we diould have applauded her con- 
stancy (as the author intended) had die been repre- 
sented ignorant of Victorian's presence. The effect 
upon the audience, in a word, would be pleasant in 

261 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

place of disagreeable were the case altered as we sug- 
gest, while the effect upon Victorian would remain 
altogether untouched. 

A still more remarkable instance of deficiency in 
the dramatic tact is to be found in the mode of bring- 
ing about the discovery of Preciosa's parentage. In 
the very moment of the icIairdtMement between the 
lovers, Chispa arrives almost as a matter of course, 
and settles the point in a sentence: 

*'6ood news from Court 1 Good news I Beltran Cruzado, 
The Count of the Calfe is not your father, 
But your true father has returned to Spain 
Laden with wealth. Tou are no more a gypsy." 

Now here are three points: first, the extreme baldness, 
platitude, and independence of the incident narrated 
by Chispa. The opportune return of the father (we 
are tempted to say the excessively opportune) stands 
by itself, has no relation to any other event in the 
play, does not appear to arise, in the way of result, 
from any incident or incidents that have arisen before. 
It has the air of a happy chance, of a Godsend, of an 
ultra-accident, invented by the playwright by way of 
compromise for his lack of invention. Nee Deus in^ 
ienkg etc., but here the god has interposed, and the 
knot is laughably unworthy of the god. 
The second point concerns the return of the father 

262 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

^ laden with wealth." The lover has abandoned his 
mistress in her poverty, and, while yet the words of 
his proffered reconciliation hang upon his lips, comes 
his own servant with the news that the mistress's 
father has returned '' laden with wealth." Now, so 
far as regards the audience, who are behind the 
scenes and know the fidelity of the lover — so far as 
regards the audience, all is right; but the poet had 
no business to place his heroine in the sad predica- 
ment of being forced, provided she is not a fool, to 
suspect both the ignorance and the disinterestedness 
of the hero. 

The third point has reference to the words, ** Tou 
are now no more a gypsy." The thesis of this drama, 
as we have already said, is love disregarding the pre- 
judices of caste, and in the development of this thesis, 
the powers of the dramatist have been engaged, or 
should have been engaged, during the whole of the 
three acts of the play. The interest excited Ues in 
our admiration of the sacrifice, and of the love that 
could make it; but this interest immediately and dis- 
agreeably subsides when we find that the sacrifice has 
been made to no purpose. '* Tou are no more a gypsy " 
dissolves the charm, and obliterates the whole impres- 
sion which the author has been at so much labor to 
convey. Our romantic sense of the hero's chivalry 
declines into a complacent satisfaction with his fate. 
We drop our enthusiasm, with the enthusiast, and 

263 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

ymaOj shake by the hand the mere man of good 
lock. But is not the latter feeling the more com- 
fortable of tiie two ? Perhaps so ; buf comfortaMe " 
is not exactly the word Mr. Longfellow mii^t wish ap- 
plied to the end of his drama, and then why be at the 
tronUe of building up an elbct through a hnndred 
and eif^ty pages* merely to knock it down at the end 
of the hnndred and eic^ty-first ? 

We have alreaity giren at some length onr con- 
ceptions of the natore of plot, and of that of The 
Spankb Siuden^ it seems almost siqierfiaons to ^eak 
at alL It has nothing of construction about it In- 
deed there is scarcely a sing^ incident which has 
any necessary dependence upon any one other. Hot 
only mii^t we take away two thirds of the ^ole 
without ruin, but without detriment, indeed, with a 
positive benefit to the mass. And, even as regards 
the mere order of arrangement, we mii^t with a very 
decided chance of improvement, put flie scenes in a 
bag, give them a shake or two by way of shuffle, and 
tumble them out. The iriude mode of cdlocation, not 
to speak of the feebleness of the incidents in them- 
selves, evinces, on the part of the author, an utter 
and radical want of the adapting or constructive power 
wliich the drama so imperatively demands. 

Of the unoriginality of flie thesis we have already 
spoken; and now, to the unoriginality of the events 
by which the thesis is developed, we need do little 

264 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

more than allude. What, indeed, could we say of 
such incidents as the child stolen by gypsies, as her 
education as a danseuse, as her betrothal to a gypsy, 
as her preference for a gentleman, as the rumors 
against her purity, as her persecution by a rou£, as 
the inruption of the rou£ into her chamber, as the 
consequent misunderstanding between her and her 
lover, as the duel, as the defeat of the roue, as the 
receipt of his life from the hero, as his boasts of 
success with the girl, as the ruse of the duplicate 
ring, as the field, in consequence, abandoned by the 
lover, as the assassination of Lara while scaling the 
giri's bedchamber, as the disconsolate peregrination 
of Victorian, as the tquhoque scene with Preciosa, as 
the offering to purchase the ring and the refusal to 
part with it, as the ** news from Court " telling of the 
gypsy's true parentage, — ^what could we say of all these 
ridiculous things, except that we have met them, each 
and all, some two or three hundred times before, and 
that they have formed, in a greater or less degree, the 
staple material of every Hop-o'My-Thumb tragedy 
since the Flood ? There is not an incident, from the 
first page of The Spaoiah Student to the last and 
most satisfactory, which we would not undertake to 
find bodily, at ten minutes' notice, in some one of the 
thousand and one comedies of intrigue attributed to 
Calderon and Lope de Vega. 
But if our poet is grossly unoriginal in his subject, 

265 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

and in the events which evolve it, may he not be 
original in his handling or tone ? We really grieve to 
say that he is not, unless, indeed, we grant him the 
meed of originality for the peculiar manner in which 
he has jumUed together the quaint and stilted tone 
of the old English dramatists with the digagie air of 
Cervantes. But this is a point upon which, through 
want of space, we must necessarily permit the reader 
to judge altogether for himself. We quote, however, 
a passage from the second scene of the first act, by 
way of showing how very easy a matter it is to make 
a man discourse Sancho Panza: 



^GUfpa^ Abemundo SatanasI and a plague upon 
all lovers who ramble about at night, drinking the 
elements, instead of sleeping quietly in their beds. 
Every dead man to his cemetery, say I; and every 
friar to his monastery. Now, here 's my master Vic^ 
torian, yesterday a cow-keeper and to-day a gentle- 
man; yesterday a student and to-day a lover; and I 
must be up later than the nightingale, for as the abbot 
sings so must the sacristan respond. God grant he may 
soon be married, for then shall all this serenading cease. 
Ay, many, marry marry I Mother, what does marry 
mean? It means to spin, to bear children, and to weep, 
my daughter 1 And, of a truth, fliere is something more 
in matrimony than the wedding-ring. And now, gentle- 
men, Pax robiaeum / as the ass said to the cabbages." 

266 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

And, we might add, as an ass only should say. 

In fact, througliout The Spanisb Student^ as well as 
throughout other compositions of its author, there runs 
a very obvious vein of imitation. We are perpetually 
reminded of something we have seen before, some old 
acquaintance in manner or matter; and even where 
the similarity cannot be said to amount to plagiarism, 
it is still injurious to the poet in the good opinion of 
him who reads. 

Among the minor defects of the play, we may men- 
tion the frequent allusion to book incidents not gen- 
erally known, and requiring each a note by way of 
explanation. The drama demands that everything be 
so instantaneously evident that he who runs may read; 
and the only impression effected by these notes to a 
play is, that the author is desirous of showing his 
reading. 

We may mention, also, occasional tautologies; such 
as, 

never did I behold thee so Mnd 
And gfrmtaMln beauty as to-nl|^l 

Or, 

What we need 
Is the celestial fire to change the flint 
Into ina»partot crystal, brighi andekatl 

We may speak, too, of more than occasional errors 
of grammar. For example, page 33 : 

Did no one see thee ? Hone, my love, but Iftoifc 

267 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

Here, '' but " is not a conjunctioiii but a preposition, 
and governs '*thee" in the objective. **None but 
thee " would be right ; meaning none except thee, Bar^ 
ing thee. At page 27, '* mayst " is somewhat incor- 
rectly written '* may'st" At page 34 we have: 

I have no other saint than iboa to pray to. 

Here, authority and analogy are both against Mr. 
Longfellow. ** Than " also is here a preposition gov- 
erning the objective, and meaning <<save" or '^except" 
** I have none other God than thee," etc See Home 
Tooke. The Latin quam te is exactly equivalent. 
At page 80 we read: 

Like thee I am a captive, and Bke tbee, 
I have a gentle gaoler. 

Here, ** like thee " (although grammatical, of course) 
does not convey the idea. Mr. L. does not mean that 
the speaker is like the bird itself, but that his condi- 
tion resembles it. The true reading would be thus : 



Am Ibou I am a captive, and, « tbouf 
I have a gentle gaoler. 

That is to say, as tbou art, and as tbou bast 

Upon the whole, we regret tliat Professor Longfellow 
has written this work, and feel especially vexed that 
he has committed himself by its republication. Only 
when regarded as a mere poem, can it be said to have 
merit of any kind. For, in fact, it is only when we 

268 



Longfellow, Willis, and the Drama 

separate the poem from the drama, that the passages 
we have commended as beantiful can be onderstood 
to have beauty. We are not too sure, indeed, that a 
" dramatic poem " ig not a flat contradiction in terms. 
At all events a man of true genius (and such Hr. L. 
unquestionably is) has no business with these hylnid 
and paradoxical compoaitionB. Let a poem be a poem 
only; let a play be a play and nothing more. As 
for The Spanhb StuJent, its thesis is unoripnal, its 
inddents are antique, its plot is no plot, its characters 
have no character; in short, it is little better than a 
play tqwn Tords, to style it " A Play " at all. 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith" 

I >■ <]|HTS is a Toy pretty little Toltime, neatly 
IvJ^ printed, handsomely bound, emlnadng some 
I <i» I f^gff hundred pages tfzteenmo, and intro- 
doced to the public, somewhat nnueceasarily, in a pre- 
face by Dr. RofuB W. Griswold. In this preface we 
find some few memoranda of the personal authoress, 
with some critical opinions in relation to her poems. 
The memoranda are meagre, A much more Interest- 
ing account of Hrs. Smith is given by Mr. John Neal, 
and was included by Mr. John Keese in the introduc- 
tion to a former collection of her works. The 
critical opinions may as well be here qnoted, at least 
in part. Dr. Griswold says: 

" Seeking expresdon, yet ahrinMng from notoriety, 
and ^th a full share of that respect for a just fame 
and appreciation which belongs to every high-toned 
mind, yet oppressed by its shadow when drcumstance 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



is the impeUing motive of publication, the writixigs ci 
Mrs. Smith might well be supposed to betray great 
inequality; still in her many contributions to the 
magazines, it is remarkable how few of her pieces dis- 
play the usual carelessness and haste of magazine 
articles. As an essayist especially, while graceful and 
lively, she is compact and vigorous; while through 
poems, essays, tales, and criticisms (for her indus- 
trious pen seems equally skilful and happy in each 
of these departments of literature), through all her 
manifold writings, indeed, there runs the same beauti- 
ful vein of philosophy, viz., that truth and goodness 
of fliemselves impart a holy light to the mind which 
gives it a power far above mere intellectuality; that the 
highest order of human intelligence springs from the 
moral and not the reasoning faculties. . . . Mrs. 
Smith's most popular poem is Tlbe Aeom, which, 
though inferior in high inspiration to The 8inle»M 
CbOdf is by many preferred for its happy play of 
fancy and proper finish. Her sonnets, of which she 
has written many, have not yet been as much ad- 
mired as file April Raiof The Brook, and other fugitive 
pieces, which we find in many popular collections." 

The SinltBM CUM was originally published in the 
Southern Literary Messenger, where it at once at- 
tracted much attention from the novelty of its concep- 
tion and the general grace and purity of its style. 

271 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



Vndoubtodly it is one of the most original of American 
poemSi surpassed in this respect, we think, only by 
Maria del Occidente's BrUe ot Sevens Of course, we 
speak merely of long poems. We have had in this 
country many brief fugitive pieces far excelling in 
this most important point (originality) either The Bride 
ofSeren or The Sinless CblU, fax excelling, indeed, any 
transatlantic poems. After all, it is chiefly in works 
of what is absurdly termed ** sustained effort" that 
we fall in any material respect behind our progenitors. 
The Sinless ChiU is quite long, including more 
than two hundred stanzas, generally of eif^t lines. 
The metre throughout is iambic tetrameter, alternat- 
ing with trimeter; in other words, lines of four iam- 
buses alternate with lines of three. The variations 
from this order are rare. The design of the poem is 
very imperfectly made out. The conception is much 
better than the execution. *' A simple cottage maiden, 
Eva, given to the world in flie widowhood of one 
parent and the angelic existence of the other . . . 
is found from her birth to be as meek and gentle as 
are those pale flowers that look imploringly upon us. 
. . . She is gifted with the power of interpreting 
file beautiful mysteries of our earth. . . • For 
her the song of flie bird is not merely the gushing forth 
of a nature too full of blessedness to be silent . . • 
the humblest plant, the sin^^lest insect, is each alive 
with truth. • • . She sees the world not merely 

272 



* 

\ 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



with mortal eyes, but looks within to the pure internal 
life of which the outward is but a type/' etc., etc. 
Ihese passages are taken from the Argument pre- 
fixed to Part L The general thesis of the poetess may, 
perhaps, be stated as the demonstration that the 
superior wisdom is moral rather than intellectual; 
but it may be doubted whether her subject was ever 
predsely apparent to herself. In a word, she seems 
to have vacillated between several conceptions, the 
only very definite idea being that of extreme beauty 
and purity in a child. At one time we fancy her, for 
example, attempting to show that the condition of 
absolute sanctity is one through which mortality may 
know all tilings and hold converse with the angels; at 
another we suppose it her purpose to ** create " (in 
critical language) an entirely novel being, a something 
that is neither angd nor mortal, nor yet fairy in the 
ordinary sense, — ^in a word, an original ens. Besides 
these two prominent fancies, however, there are various 
others which seem continually fiitting in and out of the 
poet's vision, so that her whole work has an indeter- 
minate air. Of this she apparentiy becomes conscious 
toward the conclusion, and in the final stanza endeav- 
ors to remedy the difficulty by summing up her design: 

The fliiilesB child, with mission high, 

Awhile to earth was given, 
To show us that our world should be 

The vestibule of heaven. 

▼OL. Tin. — x8. 271 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



Did we Imt in the holy Bglit 

Of tmfli md goodnMB lisey 
We ndffiit comnumioii hold with God 

And spirita firom the sldea. 

The condiict of the narrathre is scarcely more deter- 
minate, if, indeed, Tbe Sbde9M Cbttd can be said to 
include a narratiTe at alL The poem is occoined in 
its first part with a description of the child, her saintly 
character, her lone wanderings, the lessons she de- 
duces from all animal and vegetable things, and her 
communings with the angels. We have then dis- 
cussions with her mother, who is made to introduce 
episodical tales, one of OU Richard another called 
The Dcitauded Heart (a tale of a miser), and another 
entitled The Stepmotber* Toward the end of the 
poem a lover, Albert Linne, is brought upon the scene. 
He has been reckless and sinful, but is reclaimed by 
the heavenly nature of Eva. He finds her sleeping 
in a forest At this point occur some of the finest 
and most characteristic passages of the poem. 

Unwonted thoaght, unwonted calm 

Upon his spirit fell; 
For he unwittingly had sought 

Toung Eva's hallowed dell. 
And breathed that atmosphere of love^ 

Around her path that grew; 
That evil from her steps repelled^ 

The good uato her drew. 

274 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



MettL — ^The last quatrain of this stanza would have 
been more readily comprehended if punctuated and 
written thus: 

And breathed that atmosphere of love 

Around her path that grew — 
That evil from her steps xepeUed — 

That good unto her drew. 

We may as well observe here, too, that, although 
neatly printed, the volume abounds in typographical 
errors that very frequently mar the sense, as at page 66, 
for example, where '* come '* (near the bottom) is im- 
properly used for '* came," and ^* scorching '* (second 
line from the top) is substituted for ** searching." We 
proceed with Albert's discovery of Eva in the wood. 

How Eva opes her child-like eyes 

And lifts her tranquil head; 
And Albert, like a guilty tUng, 

Had from her presence fled. 
But Eva marked his troubled brow, 

BUm sad and thoughtful eyes. 
As if they sought yet shrank to hold 

Their converse with the skies. 

^ Communion with the skies *' would have been far 
better. It seems strange to us that any one should 
have overlooked the word. 

And all her kindly nature stirred. 
She prayed him to remain; 

275 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



Well comdoiu that the pore have powef^ 

To halm much human pahL 
There mingled too, as In a dream, 

Ahout braye Albert Linne, 
A real and ideal form. 

Her soul had formed within. 

We give the punctuation here as we find it; it is 
Incorrect throughout, interfering materially with a 
proper understanding of the passage. There should 
be a comma after ** And " in the first line, a conuna 
in place of the semicolon at the end of the second line, 
no point at the end of the third line, a comma after 
'^ mingled,*' and none after '* form.'* These seeming 
minutise are of real importance ; but we refer to them, 
in the case of TTie Sinless Cbitd, because here the 
aggregate of this species of minor error is unusually 
remarkable. Of course it is the proof-reader or the 
editor, and not Mrs. Smith, who is to blame. 

Her trusting hand fair Era laid 

In tliat of Albert Linnei 
And for one trembling moment turned 

Her gentle tlioughts within. 
Deep tenderness was in the glance 

That rested on his face. 
As if her woman-heart had found 

Its own abiding-place. 

And evermore to him it seemed 
Her voice more liquid grew— 

276 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



** Dear youth, thy soul and mine are one; 

One aoorce their being drew! 
And they most mingle evermore — 

Thy thoughts of love and me 
Willy as a light, thy footsteps guide 

To life and mystery.*' 

There was a sadness in her tone, 

But love unfathomed deep: 
As from the centre of the soul 

Where the divine may sleep; 
Prophetic was the tone and look. 

And Albert's noUe heart 
Sank with a strange foreboding dread 

Lest Eva should depart 

And when she bent her timid eyes 

As she beside him knelt. 
The pressure of her sinless lips 

Upon his brow he felt. 
And all of earth and all of sin 

Fled from her sainted side; 
She, the pure virgin of the soul. 

Ordained young Albert's bride. 

It would, perhaps, have been out of keeping wifh 
the more obvious plan of the poem to make Eva 
really the bride of Albert. She does not wed him, but 
dies tranquilly in bed, soon after the spiritual union 
in the forest ''Eva," says the Argument of Part 
Vn., ** hath fulfilled her destiny. Material things can 
no farther minister to the growth of her spirit That 

277 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



waUng of the soul to its own deep mysteries, its one- 
ness with another, has been accomplished. A human 
soul has been perfected.'* At this point the poem 
may be said to have its conclusion. 

In looking back at its general plan, we cannot fail 
to see traces of hig)i poetic capacity. The first p<unt 
to be commended is the reach or aim of the poetess. 
She is evidently discontented with the bald routine of 
commonplace themes, and originality has been, with 
her, a principal object In all cases of fictitious com- 
pontion it should be the first object, — ^by which we do 
not mean to say that it can ever be considered as the 
most important. But, emterh paHbaSf every class of 
fiction is the better for originality; every writer is 
false to his own interest if he fails to avail himself, 
at the outset, of the effect ^rtiich is certainly and in- 
variably derivable from the great dement, novelty. 

The execution of The SbUen CblU is, as we have 
already said, inferior to its conception; that is, to its 
conception as it floated, rather than steadily existed, 
in the brain of the authoress. She enables us to see 
that she has very narro^y missed one of those happy 
'* creations ** which now and then immortalize the 
poet With a good deal more of deliberate thought 
before putting pen to paper, with a good deal more 
of the constructive ability, and with more rigorous 
discipline in the minor merits of style, and of what is 
termed in the school-prospectuses ** composition," Mrs. 

278 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



Smith would have made of The Skdess CbiU one of 
the best, if not the very best, of American poems. 
While spealdng of the execution, or, more properly, 
the conduct of the woric, we may as well mention, 
first, the obviousness with which the stories intro- 
duced by Bva^s mother are interpolated, or episodical ; 
it is permitted every reader to see that they have no 
natural connection with the true theme ; and, indeed, 
there can be no doubt that they were written long be- 
fore the main narrative was projected. In the second 
place, we must allude to the artificiality of the <* Argu- 
ments,*' or introductory prose passages, prefacing each 
Part of the poem. Mrs. Smith had no sounder reason 
for employing them than Milton and the rest of the 
epidsts had for employing them before. If it be 
said that they are necessary for the proper compre- 
hension of a poem, we reply that this is saying noth- 
ing for them, but merely much against the poem 
which demands them as a necessity. Every work of 
art should contain within itself all that is required for 
its own comprehension. An *' argument *' is but an- 
other form of the '' This is an ox " subjoined to the 
portrait of an animal with horns. But in making 
these objections to the management of The Sinkss 
CbiU, we must not be understood as insisting upon 
them as at all material, in view of the lofty merit of 
originality, a merit which pervades and invigorates 
the whole woric, and which, in our opinion, at least, 

279 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



is tUf Ttty fir more lluui wifHciwit to compentttD 
for ererjr inartisttcality of constnictioii. A woik of 
art may be adminihly constnictod, and yet be null as 
regards every essentiality of that truest art ^Aich 
is but the happiest development of nature; but no 
woik of art can embody within itsdf a proper origin- 
ality without giving the plainest manifestations of 
the creative spiriti or, in more common parlance, of 
genius in its author. The originality of The SZoless 
CUU would cover a multitude of greater defects than 
Mrs. Smith ever committed, and must forever entitle 
it to the admiration and reject of every competent 
critic* 

As regards detached passages, we think fliat the 
episode of **The Stepmother'' may be fairly dted as 
the best in the poem. 

Ton qieek of Hoberf 8 lecond wife, a lofty dame and bold; 
I like not her forbidding air, and forehead hi^ and ooidi 
The orphans have no cauM for grief; she dare not give it now, 
Though nothing bat a ghostly fear her heart of pride could bo w. 

One night the boy his mother called; they heard him weeping 

say: 
^ Sweet mother, Idas poor Eddy's cheek and wi^ his tears 

away." 
Red grew the lady's brow with rage, and yet she fsels a strife 
Of anger and of terror, too, at thought of that dead wife. 

Wild roan the wind; the lig)ils bom bine; tiie watch-dog 
howls with fear; 

a8o 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



Lond neictlui the itood from ont fhe stelL What lonn is ced- 
ing near? 
Ho Utch is raised, no step is heard, but a phantom fills the 



A sheeted spectre from the dead, with cold and leaden face. 

What boots it that no other eye beheld the shade appear ? 
The guilty lady's guilty soul beheld it plain and dear. 
It slowly glides within the room and sadly looks around, 
And, stooping, kissed her daughter's cheek with lips that gave 
no sound. 

Then softly on the step-dame's arm she laid a death-cold hand, 
Tet it hath scorched within the fiesh like to a burning brand; 
And gttding on with noiseless foot, o'er winding stair and hall. 
She nears the chamber where is heard her infimt's trembling 
calL 

She smoothed the pillow where he lay, she warmly tucked the 

bed, 
She wiped his tears and stroked the curls that clustered round 

his head. 
The child, caressed, unknowing fear, hath nestled him to rest{ 
The mother folds her wings beside — ^the mother from the Uest I 



Tbe metre of this episode has been altered from its 
original form, and, we think, improved by the altera- 
tion. Formerly, in place of four lines of seven iam- 
buses, the stanza consisted of eight lines : aline of four 
iambuses alternating with one of three, a more ordinary 
and artificial, therefore a less desirable, arrangement 
In the three last quatrains there is an awkward vadlla- 
* tion between the present and perfect tenses, as in the 

a8i 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



words '' behdd,*' «< i^des,*' «< kissed,'* «« laid," «« hath 
scorched," << smoothed," '< wiped," '' hath nestled," 
*' folds." These petty objections, of course, will by 
no means interfere with the reader's appreciation 
of the episode, with his admiration of its pathos, its 
delicacy, and its grace; we had almost forgotten to 
say, of its pure and hi^ imagination. 

We proceed to cull from The Sinless CbiU a few 
brief but happy passages at random: 

Gentle she was and full of love, 

With Yoice exceeding sweet. 
And eyes of dove-like tendemesB 

Where joy and eadnesB meet 

With calm and tranquil eye 
That turned instinctiTely to seek 
The UnenesB of the sky. 

Bright missals from angelic throngs 

In every by-way left — 
How were the earth of gloty shorn 

Were it of flowers bereft I 

And wheresoe'er the weary heart 

Turns in its dim despair, 
The meek-eyed blossom upward looks, 

Inviting it to prayer* 

The very winds were hushed to peace 

Within the quiet dell, 
Or murmured through the rustling bou^ 

like breathings of a shelL 

282 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



The mjvtery of life ; 
Ita many hopes, its many f eara, 

Ita aorrow and ita atrif e^ 
A a^t to behold in all 

To guide, admoniah, cheer, — 
Forever, in all time and place, 

To feel an angel near. 

I may not acorn the apirit'a riglita 

For I have aeen it rise. 
All written o'er with thought, thought, thought, 

Aa with a thousand eyea. 

And there are things that blight the aoul 

Aa with a mildew blight. 
And in the temple of the Lord 

Put out the bleaaed light 

It is in the point of passages such as these, in their 
vigofi terseness, and noveltyi combined with exquisite 
delicacyi that the more otyvious merit of the poem con- 
sists. A thousand such quotable paragraphs are in- 
terspersed through the work, and of themselves would 
be sufficient to insure its popularity. But we repeat 
that a far loftier excellence lies perdu amid the minor 
deficiencies of The Sinless Cbltd 

The other poems of the volume are, as entire com- 
positions, nearer perfection, but, in general, have less 
of the true poetical dement. The Acorn is perfect 
as regards its construction; although, to be sure, the 
design is so simple that it could scarcely be marred in 
its execution. The idea is the old one of detailing the 

283 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



progress of a plant from its germ to its maturity, 
the uses and general vicissitudes to which it is sub- 
jected. In this case of the acorn the vicissitudes are 
well imagined, and the execution is more skilfully 
managed, is more definite, vigorous, and pronounced, 
than in the longer poem. The chief of the minor 
objections is to the rhythm, which is imperfect, vacQ- 
lating awkwardly between iambuses and anapaests, 
after such fashion that it is impossible to decide 
whether the rhythm in itself, that is, Aether the gen- 
eral intention, is anapaestical or iambic. Anapaests 
introduced, for the relief of monotone, into an iambic 
rhythm, are not only admissible but commendable, 
if not absolutely demanded; but in this case they pre- 
vail to such an extent as to overpower the iambic 
intention, thus rendering the whole versification diffi- 
cult of comprehension. We give, by way of example, 
a stanza with the scanning divisions and quantities: 



They came | with ^fts | that should l&e | bestow; | 

The dew | and the & | idng & — | 
The bane | ^ai should work | ite dead | ly woe, | 

The fit I Ue men | had tCere; | 
In the gniy | moss cup | was the mh | dew broSa^t, | 

The worm | in a rose- | leaf rolled, | 
And ma | ny ttdngs | with desbruc | tion fraujg)it | 

That ita doom | were qmck | ly told. | 

Here iambuses and anapaests are so nearly balanced 

284 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 



that the ear hesitates to receive the rhythm as either 
anapsMtic or iamUc; that is, it hesitates to receive it 
as anything at alL A rhythm should always be dis- 
tinctly marked by its first foot; that is to say, if the 
design is iamUc, we should commence with an un- 
mistakable iambus, and proceed with this foot until 
the ear gets fairly accustomed to it before we attempt 
variation; for which, indeed, there is no necessity 
unless for the relief of monotone. When the ifaythm 
is in this manner thorouglily recognized, we may 
sparingly vary with anapaests (or if the iliythm be 
trochaic, with dactyls). Spondees, still more spar- 
ingly, as absolute discords, may be also introduced 
either in an iambic or trochaic iliythm. In common 
with a very large majority of American, and, indeed, 
of European poets, Mrs. Smith seems to be totally un- 
acquainted with the principles of versification — ^by 
which, of couxse, we mean its rationale. Of technical 
rules on the subject there are rather more than enough 
in our prosodies, and from these abundant rules are 
deduced the abundant blunders of our poets. There 
is not a prosody in existence which is worth the paper 
on which it is printed. 

Of the miscellaneous poems included in the volume 
before us, we greatly prefer The Summons Answered 
It has more of power, more of genuine imagination 
than anything written by its author. It is the story 
of three '* bacchanals,'* who, on their way from the 

28s 



Elizabeth Oakes Smith 

scene of fheir revelry^ are arrested by fhe beckoning of 
a white hand from the partially unclosing door of a 
tomb. One of the party obeys the summons. It is the 
tomb of his wife. We quote the two concluding stanzas : 

TUs nsdMB life with its little f eaxi. 

Its hopes that fade so soon. 
With its yearning tenderness and tean^ 
And the burning agony that 

The son gone down at 
The spirit crashed to its prison wall. 

Mindless of aU beside,— 
This young Richard saw, and felt it 

WeU might the dead abide 1 

The crimson lis^t in the esst is hi|^ 

The hoar-frost coldly ^eams, 
And Richard, chilled to the heart 
Hath raised his wildered and bloodshot eye 

Fkom that long night of dreamsL 
He shudders to think of the reckless band 

And the fearful oath he swore — 
But most he thinks of the day-cold hand^ 

That opened the old tomb door; 

With the quotation of these really noble passages — 
noUe, because full of the truest poetic energy— we 
tate leave of the fair authoress. She is entitled, be- 
yond doubt| to aU, and perhaps to much more than, 
the commendation she has received. Her faults are 
among the peccadilloes, and her merits among ibit 
sterling excellencies of the Muse. 

286 



William Gilmore Simms' 



SgRR* SIHHS, we believe, iiutd« liis first, or 
IK ft neailyhiBflnt, appearance before RoAmeii> 
*^^W can audience with a small volume entitled 
Martin Fabett an amplification of a much shorter fic- 
tion. He had some difSeulty In getting it published, 
but the Harpers finally undertook it, and it did credit 
to their judgment It was well received, both 1^ the 
public and the more disciiminatiTe few, although some 
of the critics objected that ttie story was an imitation 
of MiMcrrbmn, a very powerful fiction by the author of 
Pkkwkk Abroad. The original tale, liowever, tlie 
germ of Martin Faber, was written long before the 
puUication of Miaerriau*. But independently of this 
fact, there is not the slightest ground for Ihe charge 
of imitation. The theds and incidents of the two 
woAs are totally dissimilar; the idea of resemblance 
arises only from the absolute Identity of effect wrouf^t 
by both. 



William Gilmore Simms 



Mbfdn Paber was succeeded, at short inteiTabi by 
a great niimber and variety of fictions, some brief, but 
many of the ordinary novel size. Among these we 
may notice Gvj Rhen, The PartiBaii, The YemaMce, 
MetlkbMmpe, Beauebampe, and Rkhard Httrdk, The 
last two were issued anonymously, the author wishing 
to ascertain fdiether the success of his books (which 
was great) had anything to do with his mere name as 
the writer of previous worio. The result proved that 
popularity, in Mr. Simms's case, arose solely from in- 
trinsic merit, for Beauehampe and Richard Hurdia 
were the most popular of his fictions, and excited very 
general attention and curiosity. Border Beagles was 
another of his anonymous novels, published with the 
same end in view, and, although disfigured by some 
instances of bad taste, was even more successful than 

Rkbard Hurdia. 

The ** bad taste ** of the Border Beagks was more 
particularly apparent in The Pardaan, The Yemaasee, 
and one or two other of the author's earlier works, 
and displayed itself most offensively in a certain fond- 
ness for the purely disgusting or repulsive, where the 
intention was or should have been merely the horrible. 
The writer evinced a strange propensity for minute 
details of human and brute suffering, and even in- 
dulged at times in more unequivocal obscenities, ffis 
Knglish, too, was, in his efforts, exceedingly objec- 
tionable, — verbose, involute, and not unfrequently un- 

988 



William Gilmore Simms 



granunaticaL He was eBpedaUy given to pet words, 
of which we remember at present only *'hug|'' 
** coily" end the compound *' old-time," and introduced 
them upon all occasions. Neither was he at this 
period particularly dexterous in the conduct of his 
stories, ffis improvement, however, was rapid at all 
these points, although, on the two first counts of our 
indictment, there is still abundant room for improve- 
ment. But whatever may have been his early defects, 
or whatever are his present errors, there can be no 
doubt that from the very beginning he gave evidence 
of genius, and that of no common order. His Martin 
FdbcTf in our opinion, is a more forcible story than its 
supposed prototype, JMibm&ncis^ The difference in the 
American reception of the two is to be referred to the 
fact (we blush while recording it) that MUcrrimus was 
understood to be the work of an Englishman, and 
Martin Faber was known to be the composition of an 
American, as yet unaccredited in our Republic of 
Letters. The fiction of Mr. Simms gave indication, 
we repeat, of genius, and that of no common order. 
Had he been even a Yankee, this genius would have 
been rendered immediately manifest to his country- 
men, but unhappily (perhaps) he was a Southerner, 
and united the Southern pride, the Southern dislike to 
the making of bargains, with the Southern supine- 
ness and general want of tact in all matters relating to 
the making of money. His book, therefore, depended 

▼OU Till.— 19. 23p 



William Gilmore Simms 



entirely upon its own intrinsic value and resources, bat 
with these it made its way in the end. The *' intrinsic 
▼alue " consisted, first, of a very vigorous imagination 
in the conception of the story; secondly, in artistic 
skill manifested in its conduct; thirdly, in general 
vigor, life, movement, — ^the whole resulting in deep 
interest on the part of the reader. These high quali- 
ties Mr. Simms has carried with him in his subsequent 
books ; and they are qualities which, above all others, 
the fresh and vigorous intellect of America should 
and does esteem. It may be said, upon the whole, 
that while there are several of our native writers who 
excel the author of Martin Faber at particular points, 
there is, nevertheless, not one who surpasses him in 
the aggregate of the higher excellences of fiction. 
We confidentiy expect him to do much for the lighter 
literature of his country. 

The volume now before us has a titie which may 
mislead the reader. Tbc Wigwam and the Cabin is 
merely a generic phrase, intended to designate the 
subject-matter of a series of short tales, most of which 
have first seen the light in the Annuals. '' The ma- 
terial employed," says the author, <' will be found to 
illustrate, in large degree, the border history of the 
South. I can speak with confidence of the general 
truthfulness of its treatment. The life of the planter, 
the squatter, the Indian, the negro, the bold and 
hardy pioneer, and the vigorous yeoman, — ^these are 

290 



William Gilmore Simms 



fhe subjects* In fhdr delineation I have mostly drawn 
from living portraits, and, in frequent instances, from 
actual scenes and circumstances within the memories 
of men." 

All the tales in this collection have merit, and the 
first has merit of a very peculiar kind. GmyBngi 
or Murder Will Out^ is the title. The story was well 
received in Eng^Umd, but on this fact no opinion can 
be safely based. Tbe Atbcnatuaif we believe, or some 
other of the London weekly critical journals, having 
its attention called (no doubt through personal in- 
fluence) to Carey ft Hart's beautiful annual, Tbe GiA 
found it convenient, in the course of its notice, to 
speak at length of some particular article, BndMurder 
Will Out probably arrested the attention of the sub- 
editor who was employed in so trivial a task as the 
patting on the head an American book, — arrested his 
attention first from its titie (murder being a taUng 
theme with the Cockney), and secondly from its details 
of southern forest scenery. Large quotations were 
made, as a matter of course, and very ample commen- 
dation bestowed, the whole criticism proving nothing, 
in our opinion, but that the critic had not read a single 
syllable of the story. The critique, however, had at 
least the good effect of calling American attention to 
the fact that an American might possibly do a decent 
thing (provided the possibility were first admitted by 
the British sub-editors), and the result was, first, that 

291 



William Gilmore Simms 



entiidy upon its own intrinsic value and resources, but 
with these it made its way in the end. The ^ intrinac 
▼aiue" consisted, first, of a very vigorous imaginatton 
in the conception of the story; secondly, in artistic 
skiU manifested in its conduct; thirdly, in general 
vigor, life, movement, — ^the whole resulting in de^ 
interest on the part of the reader. These high quali- 
ties Mr. Simms has carried with him in his subsequent 
books; and they are qualities which, above all othen, 
the fresh and vigorous intellect of America should 
and does esteem. It may be said, upon the whde, 
that wUle there are several of our native writers lAo 
excel the author of Martin Fabcr at particular points, 
there is, nevertheless, not one who surpasses him in 
the aggregate of the higher excellences of fiction. 
We confidentty expect him to do much for the lighter 
literature of his country. 

The volume now before us has a titie which may 
mislead the reader. The Wigwam and the Cabin is 
merely a generic phrase, intended to designate the 
subject-matter of a series of short tales, most of uriiich 
have first seen the light in the Annuals. ^ The ma- 
terial employed," says the author, '' will be found to 
illustrate, in large degree, the border history of the 
South. I can speak with confidence of the general 
truthfulness of its treatment. The life of tiie planter, 
the squatter, the Indian, the negro, the b<dd and 
hardy pioneer, and the vigorous yeoman, — ^these are 

290 



William Gilmore Simms 



the subjects. In their delineation I have mostly drawn 
from living portraits, and, in frequent instances, from 
actual scenes and circumstances within the memories 
of men." 

All the tales in this collection have merit, and the 
first has merit of a very peculiar land. GmyUngi 
or Murder WUl Otst, is the title. The story was well 
received in England, but on this fact no opinion can 
be safely based. The Atbenatunif we believe, or some 
other of the London weekly critical journals, having 
its attention called (no doubt through personal in- 
fluence) to Carey ft Hart's beautiful annual, The GUb 
found it convenient, in the course of its notice, to 
speak at length of some particular article, and Murder 
Will Out probably arrested the attention of the sub- 
editor who was employed in so trivial a task as the 
patting on the head an American book, — arrested his 
attention first from its titie (murder being a taking 
theme with the Cockney), and secondly from its details 
of southern forest scenery. Large quotations were 
made, as a matter of course, and very ample commen- 
dation bestowed, the whole criticism proving nothing, 
in our opinion, but that the critic had not read a single 
syllable of the story. The critique, however, had at 
least the good effect of calling American attention to 
the fact that an American might possibly do a decent 
thing (provided the possibility were first admitted by 
the British sub-editors), and the result was, first, that 

291 



William Gilmore Simms 



entiidy upon its own intrinsic value and resources, but 
with these it made its way in the end. The ^ intrinsic 
value ** consisted, first, of a very vigorous imagination 
in the conception of the story; secondly, in artistic 
skiU manifested in its conduct; thirdly, in guiend 
vigor, life, movement, — ^the whole resulting in deep 
interest on the part of the reader. These hig|h quali- 
ties Mr. Simms has carried with him in his suliBeqnent 
books; and they are qualities which, above all oOerSi 
the fresh and vigorous intellect of America should 
and does esteem. It may be said, upon flie idude, 
that ^^lile there are several of our native writers wbo 
excel the author of Martin Faber at particular pcnnts, 
there is, nevertheless, not one who surpasses him in 
the aggregate of the higher excellences of fiction. 
We confidently expect him to do much for flieli|^ 
literature of his country. 

The volume now before us has a title lAicfa may 
mislead the reader. Tbc Wigwam and the CMi is 
merely a generic phrase, intended to designate the 
subject-matter of a series of short tales, most of iriiich 
have first seen the liglit in the Annuals. ** The ma- 
terial employed," says the author, <' will be found to 
illustrate, in large degree, the border history of fl&e 
South. I can speak with confidence of the general 
truthfuhiess of its treatment. The life of the planter, 
the squatter, the Indian, the negro, the bold and 
hardy pioneer, and the vigorous yeoman,— these are 

290 



William Gilmore Simms 



the subjects. In their delineation I have mostly drawn 
from living portraits, and, in frequent instances, from 
actual scenes and circumstances within the memories 
of men." 

All the tales in this collection have merit, and the 
first has merit of a very peculiar kind. GrayUngi 
or Murder WUl Out, is the title. The story was well 
received in England, but on this fact no opinion can 
be safely based. Tbc AthenBtumt we believe, or some 
other of the London weekly critical journals, having 
its attention called (no doubt through personal in- 
fluence) to Carey ft Hart's beautiful annual. The GUb 
found it convenient, in the course of its notice, to 
speak at length of some particular article, and Murder 
Will Oat probably arrested the attention of the sub- 
editor who was employed in so trivial a task as the 
patting on the head an American book, — arrested his 
attention first from its titie (murder being a taking 
theme with the Cockney), and secondly from its details 
of southern forest scenery. Large quotations were 
made, as a matter of course, and very ample commen- 
dation bestowed, the whole criticism proving nothing, 
in our opinion, but that the critic had not read a sin^e 
syllable of the story. The critique, however, had at 
least the good effect of calling American attention to 
the fact that an American might possibly do a decent 
thing (provided the possibility were first admitted by 
the British sub-editors), and the result was, first, that 

291 



William Gilmore Simms 



entirely upon its own intrinsic value and resources, but 
with these it made its way in tiie end. The '' intrmac 
value" consisted, first, of a very vigorous itnagination 
in the conception of the story; secondly, in artistic 
skill manifested in its conduct; thirdly, in gvneni 
vigor, life, movement, — ^the whole resulting in deep 
interest on the part of the reader. These higlh quali- 
ties Mr. Simms has carried with him in his subsequent 
books; and they are qualities which, above all others, 
the fresh and vigorous intellect of America should 
and does esteem. It may be said, upon flie wfade, 
that while there are several of our native writers lAo 
excel the author of Martin Faber at particular points, 
there is, nevertheless, not one who surpasses him in 
the aggregate of the higher excellences of fiction. 
We confidently expect him to do much for flie lighter 
literature of his country. 

The volume now before us has a title whidi mtj 
mislead tiie reader. Tbe Wigwam and (be CJ)b is 
merely a generic phrase, intended to designate the 
subject-matter of a series of short tales, most of iriiich 
have first seen the li^t in the Annuals. ** The ma- 
terial employed,*' says the author, *' will be found to 
illustrate, in large degree, the border history of the 
South. I can speak with confidence of the general 
truthfuhiess of its treatment. The life of the planter, 
the squatter, the Indian, the negro, the boU and 
hardy pioneer, and the vigorous yeoman,— these are 

290 



William Gilmore Simms 



flie subjects* In their delineation I have mostly drawn 
from living portraits, and, in frequent instances, from 
actual scenes and circumstances within the memories 
of men." 

All the tales in this collection have merit, and the 
jBrst has merit of a very peculiar kind. GnyHngi 
or Uvfder WOl Out, is the title. The story was well 
received in Eng^Umd, but on this fact no opinion can 
be safely based. Tbc Atbcnatumf we believe, or some 
other of the London weekly critical journals, having 
its attention called (no doubt through personal in- 
fluence) to Carey ft Hart's beautiful annual. The GifU 
found it convenient, in the course of its notice, to 
speak at length of some particular article, and Murder 
Will Out probably arrested the attention of the sub- 
editor who was employed in so trivial a task as the 
patting on the head an American book, — arrested his 
attention first from its title (murder being a takmg 
theme with the Cockney), and secondly from its details 
of southern forest scenery. Large quotations were 
made, as a matter of course, and very ample commen- 
dation bestowed, the whole criticism proving nothing, 
in our opinion, but that the critic had not read a single 
syllable of the story. The critique, however, had at 
least the good effect of calling American attention to 
the fact that an American might possibly do a decent 
thing (provided the possibility were first admitted by 
the British sub-editors), and the result was, first, that 

291 



William Gilmore Simms 



entiiely upon its own intrinsic valise and resotsrces, tat 
with these it made its way in the end. The ^ intrinsic 
▼aloe" consisted, first, of a very vigorous imagfnatioii 
in the conception of the story; secondly, in artistic 
skill manifested in its conduct; thirdly, in gtnend 
vigor, life, movement, — ^the whole resulting in deep 
interest on the part of the reader. These high quali- 
ties Mr. Simms has carried with him in his subsequent 
books; and they are qualities which, above all othen^ 
the fresh and vigorous intellect of America should 
and does esteem. It may be said, upon the whole, 
that while there are several of our native writers lAo 
excel the author of Martin Faber at particular points, 
there is, nevertheless, not one who surpasses him in 
the aggregate of the higher excellences of fiction. 
We confidentiy expect him to do much for the lighter 
literature of his country. 

The volume now before us has a titie which may 
mislead the reader. The Wigwam aod the Cabin is 
merely a generic phrase, intended to designate the 
subject-matter of a series of short tales, most of uriiicfa 
have first seen the li^t in the Annuals. ** The ma- 
terial employed," says the author, '* will be found to 
illustrate, in large degree, the border history of the 
South. I can speak with confidence of the gienenl 
truthfulness of its treatment. The life of the planter, 
the squatter, the Indian, the negro, the bold and 
hardy pioneer, and the vigorous yeoman, — ^these are 

290 



William Gilmore Simms 



the subjects. In their delineation I have mostly drawn 
from living portraits, and, in frequent instances, from 
actual scenes and circumstances within the memories 
of men." 

All the tales in this collection have merit, and the 
first has merit of a very peculiar kind. GnyHngi 
or Murder WUl Out, is the title. The story was well 
received in Eng^Umd, but on this fact no opinion can 
be safely based. The Atbenatuaif we believe, or some 
other of the London weekly critical journals, having 
its attention called (no doubt through personal in- 
fluence) to Carey ft Hart's beautiful annual. The GIA 
found it convenient, in tiie course of its notice, to 
Bfeak at length of some particular article, and Murder 
Will Out probably arrested the attention of the sub- 
editor who was employed in so trivial a task as the 
patting on the head an American book, — arrested his 
attention first from its title (murder being a taking 
theme with the Cockney), and secondly from its details 
of southern forest scenery. Large quotations were 
made, as a matter of course, and very ample commen- 
dation bestowed, the whole criticism proving nothing, 
in our opinion, but that the critic had not read a single 
syllable of the story. The critique, however, had at 
least the good effect of calling American attention to 
the fact that an American might possibly do a decent 
thing (provided the possibility were first admitted by 
the British sub-editors), and the result was, first, that 

291 



Gilmore Simms 



entiidy upon its own intrinsic yaiise and rcsooices, but 
with these it made its way in tiie end. The *' intrinsic 
▼aloe" consisted, first, of a Yery vigorous imagiiiation 
in the conception of the story; secondly, in aitstic 
skill manifested in its conduct; thirdly, in gtnenl 
vigor, life, movement, — ^the whole resulting in deep 
interest on the part of the reader. These hi{^ quali- 
ties Mr. Simms has carried with him in his subsequent 
books; and they are qualities which, above all othen, 
the fresh and vigorous intellect of America shonld 
and does esteem. It may be said, upon tiie lAde, 
that while there are several of our native writers lAo 
excel the author of Martin Faber at particular pointB, 
there is, nevertheless, not one who surpasses him in 
the aggregate of tiie higher excellences of fiction. 
We confidently expect him to do much for the li^iter 
literature of his country. 

The volume now before us has a title which may 
mislead the reader. Tbc Wigwam and the Calm is 
merely a generic phrase, intended to designate the 
subject«*matter of a series of short tales, most of ivhich 
have first seen the lig|it in the Annuals. *^ The ma- 
terial employed," says the author, '* will be found to 
illustrate, in large degree, the border history of fl&e 
South. I can speak with confidence of the general 
truthfulness of its treatment. The life of the planter, 
tiie squatter, the Indian, the negro, the bold and 
hardy pioneer, and tiie vigorous yeoman,— these are 

290 



William Gilmore Simms 



fhe subjects* In fheir delineation I have mostly drawn 
from living portraits, and, in frequent instances, from 
actual scenes and circumstances within the memories 
of men." 

All the tales in this collection have merit, and the 
first has merit of a very peculiar kind. GmyUngi 
or Murder Will Out, is the title. The story was well 
received in Eng^Umd, but on this fact no opinion can 
be safely based. Tbc Athenatunif we believe, or some 
other of the London weekly critical journals, having 
its attention called (no doubt through personal in- 
fluence) to Carey ft Hart's beautiful annual, Tbe GIA 
found it convenient, in the course of its notice, to 
sfitdHs, at length of some particular article, and Murder 
Will Out probably arrested the attention of the sub- 
editor who was employed in so trivial a task as the 
patting on the head an American book, — arrested his 
attention first from its titie (murder being a taking 
fheme with the Cockney), and secondly from its details 
of southern forest scenery. Large quotations were 
made, as a matter of coturse, and very ample commen- 
dation bestowed, the whole criticism proving nothing, 
in our opinion, but that the critic had not read a sin^e 
syllable of the story. The critique, however, had at 
least the good effect of calling American attention to 
the fact that an American might possibly do a decent 
thing (provided the possibility were first admitted by 
the British sub-editors), and the result was, first, that 

291 



William Gilmore Simms 



entiiely upon its own iatrinsic yaiue and lesoorcesy but 
with these it made its way in the end. The '* intrinsic 
value'* consisted, first, of a very vigorous imagination 
in the conception of the story; secondly, in artistic 
skill manifested in its conduct; thirdly, in gcnend 
vigor, life, movement, — ^the whole resulting in deep 
interest on the part of the reader. These high quali- 
ties Mr. Simms has carried with him in his subsequoit 
books; and they are qualities which, above all othets, 
the fresh and vigorous intellect of America shoiiU 
and does esteem. It may be said, upon the whxAtj 
that while there are several of our native writers wbo 
excel the author of Martin Fabcr at particular pcrints, 
there is, nevertheless, not one who surpasses him in 
the aggregate of the higher excellences of fiction. 
We confidentiy expect him to do much for the lig^iter 
literature of his country. 

The volume now before us has a titie which may 
mislead the reader. The Wigwam and the Cabin is 
merely a generic phrase, intended to designate the 
subject-matter of a series of short tales, most of which 
have first seen the li^t in the Annuals. '' The ma- 
terial employed," says the author, '' will be found to 
illustrate, in large degree, the border history of tte 
South. I can speak with confidence of the genenl 
truthfulness of its treatment. The life of the planter, 
the squatter, the Indian, the negro, the bold and 
hardy pioneer, and the vigorous yeoman, — ^tiiese are 

290 



William Gilmore Simms 



the subjects. In their delineatioii I have mostly drawn 
from living portraits, and, in frequent instances, from 
actual scenes and circumstances within the memories 
of men." 

All the tales in this collection have merit, and the 
first has merit of a very peculiar kind. Grayling $ 
or Murder Will Out, is the title. The story was well 
received in England, but on this fact no opinion can 
be safely based. The Atbenatum, we believe, or some 
other of the London weekly critical journals, having 
its attention called (no doubt through personal in- 
fluence) to Carey & Hart's beautiful annual. The GifU 
found it convenient, in the course of its notice, to 
speak at length of some particular article, and Murder 
Will Out probably arrested the attention of the sub- 
editor who was employed in so trivial a task as the 
patting on the head an American book, — arrested his 
attention first from its title (murder being a taking 
theme with the Cockney), and secondly from its details 
of southern forest scenery. Large quotations were 
made, as a matter of course, and very ample commen- 
dation bestowed, the whole criticism proving nothing, 
in our opinion, but that the critic had not read a single 
tillable of the story. The critique, however, had at 
least the good effect of calling American attention to 
the fact that an American might possibly do a decent 
thing (provided the possibility were first admitted by 
the British sub-editors), and the result was, first, that 

291 



William Cullen Bryant 

quite as matters of course by almost every person 
with whom he converses. The fact is that, when 
brought face to face with each other, we are constrained 
to a certain amount of honesty by the ciheer trouble 
it causes us to mould the countenance to a lie. We 
put on paper with a grave air what we could not for 
our lives assert personally to a friend without either 
blushing or laughing outright. That the opinion of 
the press is not an honest opinion, that necessarily it 
is impossible that it cihould be an honest opinicm, is 
never denied by the members of the press themselves. 
Individual presses, of course, are now and then honest, 
but I speak of the combined effect Indeed, it would 
be difficult for those conversant with the modus oper^ 
andi of public journals to deny the general falsity of 
impression conveyed. Let, in America, a book be pub- 
lished by an unknown, careless, or uninfluential au- 
thor; if he publishes it ** on his own account,*' he 
will be confounded at finding that no notice of it is 
taken at all. If it has been entrusted to a publisher 
of caste, there will appear forthwith in each of the 
leading business papers a variously phrased critique 
to the extent of three or four lines, and to the effect 
that '* we have received from the fertile press of So 
and So, a volume entitled * This and That,' which 
appears to be well worthy perusal, and which is ' got 
up ' in the customary neat style of the enterprising 
firm of So and So." On the other hand, let our author 

294 



■I 



M" 'Ul 



r-r- /; 



•- • 



t • 



William Cuiloo Rrvaot 



• ■ » • ' «, 

m • 



• 1 
I 



I « 



4I * * t 14 I'. 



I- • • 



^ • ■ .... A 



r . 


V 


L>hr 


• 


1 

• 


CI 


.»»■ 


• 


! t 


t 


.« 


• M . 


• 


♦ 
I 


• '1 


T 

• 


• • 


1 



1. «* '. .- J .* • V •». • • 



William Cullen Bryant 

hare acquired influence, experience, or (what will 
stand him in good stead of either) effrontery, on the 
issue of his book he will obtain from his publisher 
a hundred copies (or more, as the case may be) ** for 
distribution among friends connected with the press." 
Armed with these, he will call personally either at 
the office or (if he understands his game) at the private 
residence of every editor within his reach, enter into 
conversation, compliment the journalist, interest him, 
as if incidentally, in the subject of the book, and 
finally, watching an opportunity, beg leave to hand 
him ** a volume which, quite opportunely, is on the 
very matter now under discussion." If the editor 
seems sufficiently interested, the rest is left to 
fate ; but if there is any lukewarmness (usually indi- 
cated by a polite regret on the editor's part that he 
really has *' no time to render the work that justice 
which its importance demands "), then our author is 
prepared to understand and to sympathize ; has, luckily, 
a friend thoroughly conversant with the topic, and 
who (perhaps) could be persuaded to write some ac- 
count of the volume, provided that the editor would 
be Idnd enough just to glance over the critique and 
amend it in accordance with his own particular views. 
(Had to fill half a column or so of his editorial space, 
and still more glad to get rid of his visitor, the journal- 
ist assents. The author retires, consults the friend, 
instructs him concerning the strong points of the 

295 



William CuUen Bryant 

▼olmne, and insintiatiiig in some shape a quid pro 
quo, gets an elaborate critique written (or, what is more 
usual and far more simple, writes it himself), and his 
business in this indiyidual quarter is accomplished. 
Nothing more than sheer impudence is requisite to 
accomplish it in alL 

Now the effect of this system (for it has really 
grown to be such) is obvious. In ninety-nine cases 
out of a hundred, men of genius, too indolent and 
careless about worldly concerns to bestir themselves 
after this fashion, have also that pride of intellect 
which would prevent them, under any circumstances, 
from even insinuating, by the presentation of a book 
to a member of the press, a desire to have that book 
reviewed. They, consequently, and their works, are 
utterly overwhelmed and extinguished in the flood of 
the apparent public adulation upon which, in gilded 
barges, are borne triumphant the ingenious toady 
and the diligent quack. 

In general, the books of the toadies and quacks, not 
being read at all, are safe from any contradiction of 
this self-bestowed praise ; but now and then it happens 
that the excess of the laudation works out in part its 
own remedy. Men of leisure, hearing one of the 
toady works commended, look at it, read its preface 
and a few pages of its body, and throw it aside with 
disgust, wondering at the ill taste of the editors who 
extcd it But there is an iteration and a continuous 

S96 



William CuUen Bryant 

mteration of the panegyric, till these men of leisure 
begin to suspect themselves in the wrong, to fancy 
that there may really be something good lying perdu 
in the volume. In a fit of desperate curiosity they 
read it through critically, their indignation growing 
hotter at each succeeding page till it gets the better 
even of contempt. The result is that reviews now ap- 
pear in various quarters entirely at variance with the 
opinions so generally expressed, and which, but for 
these indignation reviews, would have passed univer- 
sally current as the opinion of the public. It is in 
this manner that those gross seeming discrepancies 
arise which so often astonish us, but which vanish 
instantaneously in private society. 

But although it may be said in general that Mr. 
Bryant's position is comparatively well settled, still, for 
some time past, there has been a growing tendency to 
underestimate him, the new licentious " schools " of 
poetry (I do not now speak of the transcendentalists, 
who are the merest nobodies, fatiguing even them- 
selves, but the Tennysonian and Barrettian schools) 
having, in their rashness of spirit, much in accordance 
with the whole spirit of the age, thrown into the 
shade necessarily all that seems akin to the conserva- 
tism of half a centuxy ago. The conventionalities, 
even the most justifiable decora^ of composition, are 
regarded, per scf with a suspicious eye. When I say 
per 9€f I mean that, from finding them so long in 

297 



William Cullen Bryant 

connection with consenratism of thought, we have 
come at last to dislike them, not merely as the outward 
visible signs of that conservatism, but as things evil 
in themselves. It is very clear that those accuracies 
and elegancies of style and of general manner, which, 
in the time of Pope, were considered as prima tack 
and indispensable indications of genius, are now con- 
versely regarded. How few are willing to admit the 
possibility of reconciling genius with artistic skilll 
Yet this reconciliation is not only possible, but an 
absolute necessity. It is a mere prejudice which has 
hitherto prevented the union, by studiously insisting 
upon a natural repulsion which not only does not 
exist, but which is at war with all the analogies of 
nature. The greatest poems will not be written until 
this prejudice is annihilated; and I mean to express a 
very exalted opinion of Mr. Bryant when I say that his 
works in time to come will do much toward the anni- 
hilation. 

I have never disbelieved in the perfect consistency, 
and even congeniality, of the highest genius and the 
prof oundest art ; but in the case of the author of The 
Ages I have fallen into the general error of under- 
valuing his poetic ability on account of the mere 
*' elegancies and accuracies" to which allusion has 
already been made. I confess that, with an absolute 
abstraction from all personal feelings, and with the 
most sincere intention to do justice, I was at one 

298 



William Cullen Bryant 

period beguiled into fhis popular error; there can be 
no difficulty, therefore, on my part, in excusing the 
inadvertence in others. 

It will never do to daim for Bryant a genius of the 
loftiest order, but there has been latterly, since the 
days of Mr. Longfellow and Mr. Lowell, a growing 
disposition to deny him genius in any respect He is 
now commonly spoken of as '* a man of high poetical 
talent, very ' correct,' with a warm appreciation of 
the beauty of nature and great descriptive powers, 
but rather too much of the old-school manner of 
Cowper, Goldsmith, and Young." This is the truth, 
but not the whole truth. Mr. Bryant has genius, 
and that of a marked character, but it has been over- 
looked by modem schools, because deficient in those 
externals which have become in a measure symbolical 
of those schools. 

Dr. Griswold, in summing up his comments on 
Bryant, has the following significant objections: 
« His genius is not versatile ; he has related no history ; 
he has not sung of the passion of love; he has not 
described artificial Uf e. Still the tenderness and feeling 
in The Death of the FlowerB^ Rbspah, The Indian 
Girrs Lament, and other pieces, cihow that he might 
have excelled in delineations of the gentler passions 
had he made them his study." 

Now, in describing no artificial life, in relating no 
history, in not singing the passion of love, the poet 

299 



William Cullen Bryant 

has merely cihowii himself the profound artist, has 
merely evinced a proper consciousness that such are 
not the legitimate themes of poetry. That they are not, 
I have repeatedly cihown, or attempted to cihow, and 
to go over the demonstration now would be foreign to 
the gossiping and desultory nature of the present 
article. What Dr. Griswold means by *^ the gentler 
passions " is, I presume, not very clear to himself, 
but it is possible that he employs the phrase in conse- 
quence of the gentle, unpassionate emotion induced 
by the poems of which he quotes the titles. It is 
precisely this ** unpassionate emotion " which is the 
limit of the true poetical art Passion proper and 
poesy are discordant. Poetry, in elevating, tran- 
quillizes the soul. With the heart it has nothing to 
do. For a fuller explanation of these views I refer 
the reader to an analysis of a poem by Mrs. Welby, 
an analysis contained in an article called Marginalia, 
and published about a year ago in The Democratic 



The editor of The Poets and Poetry of America 
thinks the literary precocity of Bryant remarkable. 
« There are few recorded more remarkable," he says. 
The first edition of The Embargo was in 1808, and 
the poet was bom in 1794; he was more than thirteen, 
then, when the satire was printed; although it is re- 
ported to have been written a year earlier. I quote a 
few lines: 

300 



William CuUen Bryant 

Oh, might aome patriot riM, the ^oom dispel, 
Chase Error's mist and break the magic spell 1 
But vain the wish ; for, hark I the murmuring meed 
Of hoarse applause from yonder shed proceed. 
Enter and view the thronging concourse there, 
Intent with gaping mouth and stupid stare ; 
While in the midst their supple leader stands, 
Harangues aloud, and flourishes his hands. 
To adulation tunes his servile throat, 
And sues successful for each blockhead's vote. 

This is a fair specimen of the whole, both as r^^ards 
its satirical and rhythmical powen A satire is, of 
course, no poem. I have known boys of an earlier 
age do better things, although the case is rare. All 
depends upon the course of education. Bryant's 
father ** was familiar with the best English literature, 
and perceiving in his son indications of superior 
genius, attended carefully to his instruction, taught 
him the art of composition, and guided his literary 
taste." This being understood, the marvel of such 
verse as I have quoted ceases at once, even admitting 
it to be thoroughly the boy's own work; but it is 
difficult to make any such admission. The father 
must have suggested, revised, retouched. 

The longest poem of Bryant is The i4^es— thirty-five 
Spenserian stanzas. It is the one improper theme of 
its author. The design is, " from a survey of the past 
ages of the world, and of the successive advances of 
mankind in knowledge and virtue, to justify and 

301 



William Cullen Bryant 

confirm the hopes of the philanthropist for the future 
destinies of the human race." All this would have 
been more rationally, because more effectually, ac- 
complished in prose. Dismissing it as a poem (which 
in its general tendency it is not), one might com- 
mend the force of its argumentation but for the 
radical error of deducing a hope of progression from* 
the cycles of physical nature. 

The sixth stanza is a specimen of noble versifica- 
tion (within the narrow limits of the iambic penta- 
meter) : 

Look on this beautiful world, and read the truth 

In her fair page; see, every seaaon brings 

New change to her of everlasting youth; 

Still the green soil with joyous liying things 

Swarms; the wide air is fuU of joyous wings; 

And myriads still are happy in the sleep 

Of Ocean's azure gulfs, and where he flings 

The restiess suige. Eternal Love doth keep 

In his complacent arms the earth, the air, the deep. 

The cadences here at "page," "swarms," and 
" surge " cannot be surpassed. There are compara- 
tively few consonants. Liquids and the softer vowels 
abound, and the partial line after the pause at " surge," 
with the stately march of the succeeding Alexandrine, 
is one of the finest conceivable finales. 

The poem, in general, has unity, completeness. Its 
tone of calm, elevated, and hopeful contemplation is 

30a 



William Cullen Bryant 

well sustained throughout. There is an occasional 
quaint grace of expression, as in 

None of fuU Btreams, and lifter up of proud 
Sky-mingling mountains that overlook the cloud I 

or of antithetical and rhythmical force combined, as in 



The shock that huxled 
To dust, in many fragments dashed and strown, 
The throne whose roots were in another world. 
And whose far-stretching shadow awed our own. 

But we look in vain for anything more worthy 
commendation. 

Tbanatopsia is the poem by which its author is best 
known, but is by no means his best poem. It owes 
the extent of its celebrity to its nearly absolute free- 
dom from defect, in the ordinary understanding of 
the term. I mean to say that its negative merit recom- 
mends it to the public attention. It is a thoughtful, 
well-phrased, well-constructed, well-versified poem. 
The concluding thought is exceedingly noble, and has 
done wonders for the success of the whole composition. 

The Waterhwl is very beautiful, but, like Thana'^ 
fopslsf owes a great deal to its completeness and 
pointed termination. 

Ob, PairtBt ot the Rural MaUsI will strike every 
poet as the truest poem written by Bryant. It is 
richly ideaL 

/fine is sweet, and perfectly well modulated in its 

303 



William CuUen Bryant 

rhythm, and inexpressibly pathetic It serves well to 
illustrate my previous remarks about the passion in 
its connection with poetry. In June there is, very 
properly, nothing of the intense passion of g^ef , but 
the subdued sorrow which comes up, as if perforce, to 
the surface of the poet's gay sayings about his grave, 
we find thrilling us to the soul, while there is yet a 
spiritual elevation in the thrilL 

And what if chaerful shouts at noon 

Come, from the village sent, 
Or songs of maids, beneath the moon 

With fsixy laughter Uent ? 
And what if, in the evening light, 
BetrothM lovers walk in sight 

Of my low monument ? 
I would the lovely scene around 
Ifight know no sadder sight nor sound. 

I know, I know I should not see 

The season's glorious show, 
Nor would its brightness shine for me, 

Nor its wild music flow; 
But if around my place of sleep 
The friends I love should come to weep, 

They might not haste to go : 
Soft airs, and song, and light, and bloom, 
Should keep them lingering by my tomb. 



The thoughts here belong to the highest class of 
poetry, the imaginative-natural, and are of themselvea 
suflicient to stamp their author a man of genius. 

304 



William CuUen Bryant 

I copy at nmdom a few passages of siinilar cast, 
indncing a similar conyiction : 

The great heavens 
Seem to stoop down upon the scene in loye, 
A nearer yanlt, and of a tenderer bine 
Than that which bends atx>Ye the eastern hills. 

Till twilight Unshed, and lovers walked and wooed 
In a forgotten language, and old tunes. 
From instruments of unremembered form. 
Gave the soft winds a voice. 

Breezes of the South 
That toss the golden and the flame-like flowers. 
And pass the prairie hawk, that, poised on high. 
Flaps his broad wings, yet moves not. 

On the breast of Earth 
I lie, and listen to her mighty voice, 
A voice of many tones sent up from streams 
That wander through the gloom, from woods unseen 
Swayed by the sweeping of the tides of air; 
From rocky chasms where darkness dwells all day. 
And hollows of the great invisible hills, 
And sands that edge the ocean, stretching far 
Into the night — a melancholy sound I 

All the green herbs 
Are stirring in his breath; a thousand flowers, 
By the road side and the borders of the brook. 
Hod gayly to each other. 



William CuUen Bryant 

[There is a fine ** echo of sound to sense " in '* the 
borders of the brook," etc. ; and in the same poem 
from which these lines are taken (The Summer Wind) 
may be found two other equally happy examples, e,gj 

For me, I lie 
Luiguidljr in the Bbade, where the thick tuxf , 
Tet virgin from the kisses of the son. 
Retains some freshness. 

And again: 

All is silent, save the faint 
And intem^ted mnrmnr of the bee 
SettUog on the Bkk ihwtn, and then again 
Instantly on the wing. 

I resume the imaginative extracts.] 

Paths, homes, graves, ruins from the lowest s^en 
To where life shrinks from the fierce Alpine air. 

And the blue gentian flower that in the breeze 
Hods lonely, of her beauteous race the last 

A shoot of that old vine that made 
The nations silent in the shade. 

But *neath yon crimson tree, 
Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame, 
Hor mark, within its roseate canopy, 

Her flush of maiden shame. 

The mountains that infold. 
In their wild sweep, the colored landscape round. 
Seem groups of giant kings in purple and gold 

That guard the enchanted ground. 

306 



' 



William Cullen Bryant 

[This latter passage is especially beautiful, 
to endow inanimate nature with sentience and a ca- 
pability of action, is one of the severest tests of the 
poet] 

There is a Power whose care 
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast, 
The desert and illimitable air. 

Lone, wandering, hut not lost 

Pleasant shaU be thy way, where meeldy bows 

The shutting flower, and darkling waters pass 

And 'twixt the overshadowing branches and the grass. 

Sweet odors in the sea air, sweet and strange, 
ShaU tell the home-sick mariner of the shore. 
And, listening to thy murmur, he shaU deem 
He hears the rustling leaf and nmning streaxn. 

In a sonnet, To , are some richly imaginative 

lines. We quote the whole : 

Ay, thou art for the grave; thy glances shine 

Too brightly to shine long: another spring 
Shall deck her for men's eyes, but not for thine, 

Sealed in a sleep which knows no waking. 
The fields for thee have no medidnal leaf. 

And the vexed ore no mineral of power; 
And they who love thee wait in anxious grief 

nil the slow plague shaU bring the fatal hour. 
Glide softly to thy rest, then: death should come 

Gently to one of gentle mould like thee, 

307 



William Cullen Bryant 

Af licht winds wiiidarii^r tbfoai^ groTM of bloofli 

Detech Hm driiaite Mowom from tin tree. 
Cloee fl^ eweet ejee celmty end witlumt peiiiy 
And we will trmt in God to tee thee jet again. 

The happiest Aiafe to fheae brief extracts will be tiM 
magnificent conclusion of TbaiuilopBh^ 

So live that, idien thy nunnions comes to join 
The imntmerable caravan Uiat moves 
To Uiat mjsieiious realm where each shaU take 
TTi^ ciiamber in tiie rilent ^**m« of <^<*^t** . 
Thoo go not like die quarry slave at ni|^ 
Sooniged to his dnngeon, hot, sustained and soothed 
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave 
Like one that draws the drapery of his conch 
Ahout him, and lies down to pleasant dreams. 

In the minor morals of tiie Muse Mr. Bryant excels. 
In versification (as far as he goes) he is unsurpassed 
In America — unless, indeed, by Mr. Sprague. Mr. 
Longfellow is not so thorough a yersifier within Mr. 
Bryant's Umits, but a far better one, upon the whole, 
on account of his greater range. Mr. B., however, is 
by no means always accurate, or defensible, for ac- 
curate is not the term. His lines are occasionally 
unpronounceable through excess of harsh consonants, 
as in 

As if they loved to hreast the hreeze that sweeps the cool 
dear sky. 

308 



William Cullen Bryant 

Kow and fhen he gets out of his depth in attempting 
anapaestic rhythnii of which he makes sad havoc, as in 

And Rizpah, once the loyeliest of «n 

That bloomed and smiled in the court of SauL 

Kot unf requently, too, even his pentameters are iiH 
excusably rough, as in 

Kfaid influence. Lol thsir orbs bom more bri^t, 

which can only be read metrically by drawing out 
« influence '* into three marked syllables, shortening 
the long monos^lable *'Lol'* and lengthening the 
short one ^^ their." 

Mr. Bryant is not devoid of mannerisms, one of the 
most noticeable of which is liis use of the epithet *' old '' 
preceded by some other adjective, e^g^i 

In aU that proud old world beyond the deep; • • • 
There is a tale about these gray old rocks; • • . 
The wide old woods resounded with her song; . • • 
And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven, 

etc., etc., etc. These duplicates occur so frequently 
as to exdte a smile upon each repetition. 

Of merely grammatical errors the poet is rarely 
guilty. Faulty constructions are more frequently 
chargeable to him. In The MaBBaert otSdo we read: 

TiU the last Hnk of slavery's chain 
1b shivered, to be worn no more. 

309 



William Cullen Bryant 



What shall be worn no more ? The chain, of course, 
but the link is implied. It will be understood that I 
pick these flaws only with difficulty from the poems of 
Bryant He is, in the ** minor morals," the most gen- 
erally correct of our poets. 

He is now fifty-two years of age. In height, he is, 
perhaps, five feet nine. His frame is rather robust 
His features are large but thin. His countenance is 
sallow, nearly bloodless. His eyes are piercing gray, 
deep set, with large projecting eyebrows. His mouth 
is wide and massive, the expression of the smile hard, 
cold, even sardonic. The forehead is broad, with 
prominent organs of ideality; a good deal bald; the 
hair thin and grajrish, as are also the whiskers, which 
he wears in a simple style. His bearing is quite dis- 
tinguished, full of the aristocracy of intellect. In gen- 
eral, he looks in better health than before his last visit 
to England. He seems active, physically and morally 
energetic. His dress is plain to the extreme of sim- 
plicity, although of late there is a certain degree of 
Ang^dsm about it. 

In character no man stands more loftily than Bryant 
The peculiarly melancholy expression of his counte- 
nance has caused him to be accused of harshness, or 
coldness of heart. ITever was there a greater mistake. 
His soul is charity itself, in all respects generous and 
noble. His manners are undoubtedly reserved. 

Of late days he has nearly, if not altogether aban- 

310 



William Cullen Bryant 

doned literary punuits, although still editmg, with un- 
abated vigor, the New York Ertaing Post. He is 
married (Mrs. Biyant still living), has two daoghtora 
(one of them Mrs. Parke Godwin), and is residing for 
the present at ^^ce-Chancellor McCown's, near the 
junction of Warren and Church streets. 



The Literati 



[In 1846, Hr. Pm pnbliilMd In The Udf't Boot a mcIm at 
rix articlM, entitled " The literati of Hew Toik dty," in 
which he profeeted to glre tome "boneit o^niona at 
random reapecting their authorial merits, with occatbuial 
words of personality." The wriH was Introduced bj 
the following poragrapliB, and the penonal aketchei were 
given in the order In which thej ere here reprinted, 
from ** George Boah " to " Richard Adanu Locke." The 
other noticei of American and forrign writers were contri- 
buted bj lb. Poe to vailons jonmals, chiefly In the last 
four or flra jeara of Ui life.] 



' (H yV* '^ criticism on Bryant I was at lome pains in 
V^^ pointing out the distinction between the 
T ' popular " opinion " (rf the merits of con- 
temporary authors and that held and expressed of 
them in private literary society. The former species 
0$ •' opinion " can be called " opinion " only by cour- 
tesy. It is the public's own, just as we consider a book 
our own irtun we have bougjit it. In general, this 
3" 



The Literati 



opinion is adopted from the journals of the day, and I 
have endeavored to show that the cases are rare indeed 
in which these journals express any other sentiment 
about books than such as may be attributed directly or 
indirectly to the authors of the books. The most 
** popular," the most ** successful " writers among us 
(for a brief period, at least) are, ninety-nine times out 
of a hundred, persons of mere address, perseverance, 
effrontery — ^in a word, busybodies, toadies, quacks. 
These people easily succeed in boring editors (whose 
attention is too often entirely engrossed by politics or 
other '' business " matter) into the admission of favor- 
able notices written or caused to be written by inter- 
ested parties, or, at least, into the admission of some 
notice where, under ordinary circumstances, no notice 
would be given at all. In this way ephemeral '' r^ 
putations" are manufactured, which, for the most 
part, serve all the purposes designed; that is to say, 
the putting money into the purse of the quack and the 
quack's publisher; for there never was a quack who 
could be brought to comprehend the value of mere 
fame. Now, men of genius will not resort to these 
manoBuvres, because genius involves in its very es- 
sence a scorn of chicanery; and thus for a time the 
quacks always get the advantage of them, both in r^ 
spect to pecuniary profit and what appears to be putdie 



There is another point of view too. Tour literary 

313 



The Literati 



quacks court, in especial, the personal acquaintance of 
those ** connected with the press.'' ITow these latter, 
even when penning a yoluntary, that is to say, an un- 
instigated notice of the book of an acquaintance, feel 
as if writing not so much for the eye of the public as 
for the eye of the acquaintance, and the notice is fash- 
ioned accordingly. The bad points of the work are 
slurred over, and the good ones brought out into the 
best light, all tliis through a feeling akin to that which 
makes it impleasant to speak ill of one to one's face. 
In the case of men of genius, editors, as a general rule, 
have no such delicacy, for the simple reason that, as 
a general rule, they have no acquaintance with these 
men of genius, a class proverbial for shunning society. 
But the very editors who hesitate at saying in print 
an ill word of an author personally known, are usually 
the most frank in speaking about him privately. In 
literary society, they seem bent upon avenging the 
wrongs self-inflicted upon their own consciences. 
Here, accordingly, the quack is treated as he deserves, 
even a little more harshly than he deserves, by way of 
striking a balance. True merit, on the same principle, 
is apt to be slightly overrated; but, upon the whole, 
there is a close approximation to absolute honesty of 
opinion; and this honesty is further secured by the 
mere trouble to which it puts one in conversation to 
model one's countenance to a falsehood. We place 
on paper without hesitation a tissue of flatteries to 

3H 



The Literati 



which in society we could not give utterance, for our 
lives, without either blushing or laugjiing outright 

For these reasons there exists a very remarkable 
discrepancy between the apparent public opinion of any 
given author's merits and the opinion which is ex- 
pressed of him orally by those who are best qualified 
to judge. For example, Mr. Hawthorne, the author of 
Tw/ce^Tb/cf Tales, is scarcely recognized by the press 
or by the pubUc, and when noticed at all, is noticed 
merely to be damned by faint praise. Now, my own 
opinion of him is, that, although his walk is limited, 
and he is fairly to be charged with mannerism, treating 
all subjects in a similar tone of dreamy innuendo, yet in 
this walk he evinces extraordinary genius, having no 
rival either in America or elsewhere ; and this opinion 
I have never heard gainsaid by any one literary per- 
son in the country. That this opinion, however, is a 
spoken and not a written one, is referable to the facts, 
first, that Mr. Hawthorne is a poor man, and, second, 
that he is not an ubiquitous quack. 

Again, of Mr. Longfellow, who, although a little 
quacky per Be, has, through his social and literary 
position as a man of property and a professor at Har- 
vard, a whole legion of active quacks at his control, 
—of him what is the apparent popular opinion ? Of 
course, that he is a poetical phenomenon, as entirely 
without fault as is the luxurious paper upon which his 
poems are invariably borne to the public eye. In 

315 



The Literati 



private society he 18 regarded with one Toice as apoct of 
far more than usual afaQity, a ddlfiil artist, and a well- 
read man, hot as less remarkable in eitiier ci^adty dum 
as a determined imitator and a dexterous adapter of 
the ideas of other people. For years I have conrersed 
with no literary person who did not entertain precise^ 
these ideas of Prof essor L. ; and, in fact, on all literary 
topics there is in society a seeminc^y wonderful coinci- 
dence of opinion. The author accustomed to seclu- 
sion, and mingling for the first time with those who 
have been associated with him only through their 
works, is astonished and delighted at finding com- 
mon to all whom he meets conclusions which he had 
blindly fancied were attained by himself alone and in 
opposition to the judgment of mankind. 

In the series of papers which I now propose, my de- 
sign is, in giving my own unbiassed opinion of the 
Jiterati (male and female) of New York, to give at the 
same time very closely, if not with absolute accuracy, 
that of conversational society in literary circles. It 
must be expected, of course, that, in innumerable par- 
ticulars, I shall differ from the voice, that is to say, 
from what appears to be the voice of the public; but 
this is a matter of no consequence whatever. 

New York literature may be taken as a fair repre- 
sentation of that of the country at large. The city itself 
is the focus of American letters. Its authors include, 
perhaps, one fourth of all in America, and Che influence 

316 



The Literati 



fhey exert on their brethren^ if seemingiy silent, is 
none the less extensive and dedsive. As I sliall have 
to speak of many individualsi my limits will not per- 
mit me to sptak of them otherwise than in brief; but 
this brevity will be merely consistent with the design, 
which is that of simple opinion, with little of either 
argument or detaiL With one or two exceptions, I am 
well acquainted with every author to be introduced, 
and I sliall avail myself of the acquaintance to convey, 
generally, some idea of the personal appearance of all 
who, in this regard, would be likely to interest my 
readers. As any precise order or arrangement seems 
unnecessary and may be inconvenient, I shall maintain 
none. It will be understood that, without reference to 
supposed merit or demerit, each individual is intro- 
duced absolutely at random. 

GEORGE BUSH 

The Rev. George Bush is Professor of Hebrew 
in the University of ITew York, and has long been 
distinguished for the extent and variety of his 
attainments in Oriental literature; indeed, as an 
Oriental linguist, it is probable that he has no equal 
among us. He has published a great deal, and his 
books have always the good fortune to attract attention 
throughout the dviUzed world. His Treathe on tbe 
MiZfeim/ain is, perhaps, that of his eariier compositions 

317 



The Literati 



by which he is most eztensiydy as well as most 
favorably known. Of late days he has created a sin- 
gular commotion in the realm of theology by his 
Anastasia / or the Doctrine ot the ReBurredhn $ in 
wlUctk it ia sliown Uiat the Doctrine ot the Ke»urrection 
of the Body ia not aanctioned by Reaaon or Kerttation, 
This work has been zealously attacked, and as zealously 
defended by the professor and his friends. There can 
be no doubt that, up to this period, the Bushites hare 
had the best of the battle. The Anaataaia is lucidly, suc- 
cinctly, vigorously, and logically written, and proves, in 
my opinion, everything that it attempts, provided we ad- 
mit the imaginary axioms from which it starts; and 
this is as much as can be well said of any theological 
disquisition under the sun. It might be hinted, too, in 
reference as well to Professor Bush as to his opponents, 
'' que la plupart des sectes ont raison dans une bonne 
partie de ce qu'elles avancent, mais non pas en ce 
qu'elles nient.*' A subsequent work on The Sout, by 
the author of Anaataaia,baa made neariy as much noise 
as the Anaataaia itself. 

Taylor, who wrote so ingeniously The Natural Hia^ 
tory of Enthuaiaam, mig^t have derived many a valua- 
ble hint from the study of Professor Bush. Vo man is 
more ardent in his theories; and these latter are 
neither few nor commonplace. He is a Mesmerist and 
a Swedenborgian ; has lately been engaged in editing 
Swedenborg's works, publishing them in numbers. He 

318 



The Literati 



converses with fervor, and often with eloquence. Very 
probably he will establish an independent church* 

He is one of the most amiable men in the 
world, universally respected and beloved. His frank, 
unpretending simpfidty of demeanor is especially 
winning. 

In person he is tall, nearly six feet, and spare, with 
large bones. His countenance expresses rather be- 
nevolence and profound earnestness than high intelli- 
gence. The eyes are piercing; the other features, 
in general, massive. The forehead, phrenologically, 
indicates causality and comparison, with deficient 
ideality, — ^the organization which induces strict logi- 
cality from insufficient premises. He walks with a 
slouching gait and with an air of abstraction. Els 
dress is exceedin^y plain. In respect to the arrange- 
ment about his study, he has many of the MagfiA-^ 
bechian habits. He is, perhaps, fifty-five years of 
age, and seems to enjoy good health. 

GEORGE H. COLTON 

Mr. Colton is noted as the author of Teeumseb, 
and as the originator and editor of The American Fe^ 
rkwf a Whig magazine of the higher (that is to say, 
of the five-dollar) dass. I must not be understood 
as meaning any disrespect to the work. It is, in my 
opinion, by far the best of its order in this country, 

319 



The Literati 



and is supported in the way of contribution byniany 
of the very noblest intellects. Mr. Colton, if in 
nothing else, has shown himself a man of genius in 
his successful establishment of the maguvin^ within 
so brief a period. It is now commencing its 
second year, and I can say, from my own per^ 
sonal knowledge, that its circulation exceeds two 
thousand; it is probably about two thousand 
five hundred. So marked and immediate a success 
has never been attained by any of our five-dollar 
magazines, with the exception of The Southern Literary 
Messenger, which, in the course of nineteen months 
(subsequent to the seventh from its commencement), 
attained a circulation of rather more than five thou- 
sand. 

I cannot conscientiously call Mr. Colton a good 
editor, althouj^ I think that he will finally be so. He 
improves wonderfully with experience. His present 
defects are timidity and a lurking taint of partiality, 
amounting to positive prejudice (in the vulgar sense) 
for the literature of the Puritans. I do not think, 
however, that he is at all aware of such prepossession. 
His taste is rather unexceptionable than positively 
good. He has not, perhaps, sufficient fire within him- 
self to appreciate it in others. Nevertheless, he en- 
deavors to do so, and in this endeavor is not inapt 
to take opinions at second hand, — to adopt, I mean, the 
opinions of others. He is nervous, and a very trifling 

320 



The Literati 



difficulty disconcerts him, without getting the better 
of a sort of dogged perseverancei which will make a 
thoroughly successful man of him in the end. He is 
(classically) well educated. 

As a poet he has done better things than TecumBeb, 
in whose length he has committed a radical and irre- 
parable error, sufficient in itself to destroy a far better 
book. Some portions of it are truly poetical; very 
many portions belong to a high order of eloquence ; it 
is invariably well versified, and has no glaring defects, 
but, upon the whole, is insufferably tedious. Some of 
the author's shorter compositions, published anony- 
mously in his magazine, have afforded indicaticms 
even of genius. 

Mr. Cotton is marked in his personal appearance. 
He is probably not more than thirty, but an air of 
constant thought (with a pair of spectacles) causes 
him to seem somewhat older. He is about five feet 
eight or nine in height, and fairly proportioned, 
neither stout nor thin. His forehead is quite intelleo- 
tuaL Wb mouth has a peculiar expression difficult 
to describe. Hair light and generally in disorder. 
He converses fluentiy, and, upon the whole, well, but 
grandiloquentiy, and with a tone half tragical, half 
pulpitaL 

In character he is in the highest degree estimable, 
a most sincere, high-minded, and altogether honorable 
man. He is unmarried. 

▼OL. Villa— ss. ^31 



The Literati 



H. P. WILLIS 



Whatever may be thought of Mr. Willis's talents, 
there can be no doubt of the fact that, both as an 
author and as a man, he has made a good deal of 
noise in the world — ^at least for an American. Bia 
literaiy life, in especial, has been one continual 
imeutef but then his literary character has been 
modified or impelled in a very remarkable degree by 
his personal one. His success (for in point of fame, 
if of nothing else, he has certainly been successful) 
is to be attributed, one third to his mental ability 
and two thirds to his physical temperament, the 
latter goading him into the accomplishment of 
what the former merely gave him the means of 
accomplishing. 

At a very early age Mr. Willis seems to have arrived 
at an understanding that, in a republic such as ours, 
the mere man of letters must ever be a cipher, and 
endeavored, accordingly, to unite the iclat of the lit^ 
tirateut with that of the man of fashion or of society. 
He ** pushed himself,'' went much into the worid, 
made friends with the gentler sex, *' delivered " 
poetical addresses, wrote ** Scriptural " poems, trav- 
elled, sought the intimacy of noted women, and got 
into quarrels with notorious men. AU these things 
served his purpose, if, indeed, I am right in supposing 
that he had any purpose at alL It is quite probable 

322 



The Literati 



that, as before hinted, he acted only in accordance 
with his physical temperament; but, be this as it 
may, his personal greatly advanced, if it did not alto- 
gether establish, his literary fame. I have often care- 
fully considered whether, without the physique of 
which I speak, there is that in the absolute morale 
of Mr. Willis which would have earned him reputa- 
tion as a man of letters, and my conclusion is, that 
he could not have failed to become noted in some 
degree under almost any circtmistances, but that about 
two thirds (as above stated) of his appreciation by 
the public should be attributed to those adventures 
which grew immediately out of his animal constitu- 
tion. 

He received what is usually regarded as a '< good 
education," that is to say, he graduated at college; 
but his education, in the path he pursued, was worth 
to him, on account of his extraordinary saYoir hire, 
fully twice as much as would have been its value in 
any conunon case. No man's knowledge is more 
available, no man has exhibited greater tact in the 
seemingly casual display of his wares. With him, at 
least, a little learning is no dangerous thing. He 
possessed at one time, I believe, the average quan- 
tum of American collegiate lore: a ** little Latin and 
less Greek," a smattering of physical and metaphysical 
science, and (I should judge) a very little of the mathe- 
matics; but all this must be considered as mere guess 

323 



The Literati 



on my part. Mr. Willis speaks Freneh with some 
fluency, and Italian not quite so welL 

^thin the ordinary range of belles-lettres auflior- 
ship, he has evinced much versatility. If called on 
to designate him by any general literary title, I might 
term him a magazinist, for his compositions have 
invariably the species ci effect, with the brevity, which 
the magazine demands. We may view him as a para- 
graphist, an essayist, or rather ** sketcher," a tale 
writer, and a poet 

In the first capacity he fails. His points, however 
good, when deliberately wrought, are too recbercheu 
to be put hurriedly before the public eye. Mr. W. 
has by no means the readiness which the editing a 
newspaper demands. He composes (as did Addison, 
and as do many of the most brilliant and seem- 
ingly dashing writers of the present day) with great 
labor and frequent erasure and interlineation, ffis 
MSS., in this itegard, present a very singular appear- 
ance, and indicate the vacillation which is, perhaps, 
the leading trait of his character. A newspaper, too, 
in its longer articles, its *' leaders," very frequently de- 
mands argumentation, and here Mr. W. is remarkably 
out of his dement. His exuberant fancy leads him 
over hedge and ditch, anywhere from the nudn road, 
and, besides, he is far too readily self-dispossessed. 
With time at command, however, his great tact stands 
him instead of all argumentative power, and enables 

324 



The Literati 



him to overthrow an antagonist without permitting 
the latter to see how he is overthrown. A fine ex- 
ample of this '' management " is to be found in Mr. 
W.'s reply to a very inconsiderate attack upon his 
social standing, made by one of the editors of the 
New York Courier and h}quirer0 I have always 
regarded this reply as the highest evidence of its 
author's ability, as a masterpiece of ingenuity, if 
not of absolute genius. The skill of the whole lay 
in this, that without troubling himself to refute the 
charges themselves, brouglit against him by Mr. Ray- 
mond, he put forth his strength in rendering them 
null, to all intents and purposes, by obliterating, in- 
ddentaUy and without letting his design be perceived, 
aU the impression these charges were calculated to 
convey. But this reply can be called a newspaper 
article only on the ground of its having appeared in a 
newspaper. 

As a writer of '' sketches,'' properly so called, Mr. 
Willis is unequalled. Sketches, especially of society, 
are his forte, and they are so for no other reason than 
that they afford him the best opportunity of intro- 
ducing the personal Willis; or, more distinctly, be- 
cause this species of composition is most susceptible of 
impression from his personal character. The dSgag6 
tone of this kind of writing, too, best admits and 
encourages that fancy which Mr. W. possesses in the 
most extraordinary degree; it is in fancy that he 

3«S 



The Literati 



reigns supreme ; this, more than any one other quality, 
and, indeed, more than all his other literary qualities 
combined, has made him what he is. It is this which 
gives him the originality, the freshness, the point, the 
piquancy, which appear to be the immediate, but which 
are, in fact, the mediate, sources of his popularity/ 

In tales (written with deliberation for the magazines) 
he has shown greater constructiveness than I should 
have given him credit for had I not read his composi- 

' As, by metaphydcUns and in ordinary difcoane, the word ** fancy" it 
med with very fittle d«tenninatenen of meaninc. I may be pardoned for 
repeating here what I have elsewhere said on this topic I shall fhns be 
saved much misapprehension in regard to the term — one which wiU neces 
sarily be often employed in the coarse of this series. 

" Fancy,** says the author of AJUt to KeOeedoa (who aided reflection to 
much better purpose in his G e o tw k w ii * — ^" fancy combines, imaginaflon 
creates." This was intended and has been receiTed as a distinction, but it is a 
distinction without a difference — without a difference even of degree. The 
fancy as nearly creates as the imagination, and neither at alL Horel concep- 
tions are merely unusual combinations. The mind of man can imai^ne 
nothing which does not really exist; if it could, it would create not only 
ideally, but substsntially, as do the thoughts of God. It may be said, " We 
imagitio a griffin, yet a griffin does not exist*' Hot the griffin, certainly, but 
its component parts. It is no more than a collation of known limbe, features, 
qualities. Thus with all which claims to be new, which appears to be a crea- 
tion of the intellect — all is re-soluble into the old. The wildest effort of the 
mind cannot stand the test of this analysis. 

Imagination, fancy, fantasy, and humor hare in common the elements 
combination and noTclty. The imagination is the first artist of the four. 
From novel arrangements of old forms which present themselves to it, it se- 
lects such only as are harmonious; the result, of course, is beauty itself — 
using the word in its most extended sense and as indudve of the sublime. 
The pure imaginaflon chooses, from either beauty or deformity, only the most 
combinable things hitherto uncombined, the compound, as a general rule, 
partaking in character of sublimity or beauty in the rado of the respectiTe 
sublimity or beauty of the things combined, which are themselves still to be 
considered as atomic, that Is to say, as previous combinations. But, at 
often analogously happens in physical chemistry, so not unfrequently does It 
occur in this chemistry of the intellect, that the admixture of two elements 
will result in a something that shall have nothing of the quality of one of them, 
or even nothing of the qualities of either. The range of imagination is thus 

326 



The Literati 



tions of this ordefi for in this faculty all his other 
works indicate a singular deficiency. The chief 
charm eren of these tales, however, is still referable 
to fancy. 

As a poet, Mr. Willis is not entitled, I think, to so 
high a rank as he may justly claim throu^ his prose; 
and this for the reason that, althou^^ fancy is not in- 
consistent with any of the demands of those classes 
of prose composition which he has attempted, and, 



vnBmited. Ita nuttvriali extend throucliout the vnlTene. Eren out of d*» 
fonnitiet it fabricates that beauty which is at once its sole object and its in- 
etiteUe test But, in general, the rldmess of tlie matters combinedf the 
f adHty d diaoorcring comWnaWe novelties worth combining, and the abeolute 
" fhemiral combination " of the completed mass, are the particvlan to be 
regarded in oitr estimate of imagination. It is this thorough harmony ol an 
imaglnatiTe work which so often causes it to be underralued by the undie- 
criminating, throui^ the character of obviousness which is superinduced. 
We are apt to find ourselves asking why it is that these combinations have 
never been imagined before. 

How, when this question does not occur, wiien the harmony of the com- 
bination is comparatiTely neglected, and when, in addition to the dement of 
novelty, there is introduced the sub-element of unexpectedness — ^when, for 
example, matters are brought into combination which not only have never 
been combined, but whoee combination strikes us as a difficulty happily over- 
come, the result then appertains to the fancy, and is, to the majority ol man- 
kind, more grateful than the purely harmonious one; although, abeohitely, 
it is less beautiful (or grand) for the reason that it is lem harmonious. 

Carrying ite errors into excess — for, however enticing, they are errors still, 
or nature Hes — fancy is at length found infringing upon the province of fan- 
tasy. The votaries of this latter delight not only in novelty and unexpected- 
ness of combination, but in the aToidance of proportion. The reeuh is, 
theiefore, abnormal, and, to a healthy mind, affords less of pleasure through 
ite novelty than of pain through ite incoherence. When, proceeding a step 
farther, however, fancy seeks not merely disproportionate but incongruous or 
antagonistic elements, the effect is rendered more pleasurable by ite greater 
positivenees, there is a merry effort ol truth to shake from her that which is no 
ptopeiiy of hers, and we laugh outright in recognizing humor. 

The four faculties in question seem to me all of their class; but when either 
fancy or humor is expreesed to gain an end, is pointed at a purpose, whenever 
either becomes objective in place of subjective, then it becomes, also, pure wit 
«r sarcasm. Just as the purpose is benevolent or malevolent 

327 



The 



indeed, is a vital dement of most of tliem, still it is 
at war (as will be understood from what I have said 
in the foot-note) witb that pisrity and perfection of 
beauty which are the soul of the poem proper. I 
wish to be understood as saying this generally of our 
author's poems. In some instances, p^^^ti'g to fed 
the truth of my proposition (that fancy diould have 
no place in the loftier poesy), he has denied it a place, 
as in Mehok and his Scriptural pieces; but, unfor- 
tunately, he has been unable to supply the void with 
the true imagination, and these poems consequently 
are defident in vigor, in stamen. The Scriptural pieces 
are quite *^ correct," as the French have it, and are 
much admired by a certain set of readers, iriio judge 
of a poem, not by its effect on themsdves, but by the 
effect which they imagine it mi^^t have upon them- 
selves were they not unhappily soulless, and by the 
effect which they take it for granted it does have upon 
others. It cannot be denied, however, that these 
pieces are, in general, tame, or indebted for what 
force they possess to the Scriptural passages of which 
they are merely paraphrastic. I quote what, in my 
own opinion, and in that of nearly all my friends, is 
really the truest poem ever written by Mr. ^t^^Uis. 

The flhadowB lay dong Broadway, 

T was near the twilight tide. 
And slowly there a lady fair 

Was walking in her pride. 



The Literati 



Alone walkod she, y«t vie^rteialy 
Walked spirits at her side. 

Peace charmed the street beneath her feety 

And honor charmed the air^ 
And all astir looked kind on her 

And called her good as fair; 
For all God ever gave to her 

She kept with chary care. 

She kept with care her beauties rare^ 

From lovers warm and true, 
For her heart was cold to all but gold, 

And the rich came not to woo. 
Ah, honored well are charms to sell 

When priests the selling dol 



Now, walking there was one more fair — 

A slight girl, Uly-pale, 
And she had unseen company 

To make the spirit quail: 
Twixt Want and Scorn she walked f oriom, 

And nothing could avaiL 

No mercy now can dear her brow 

For this world's peace to pray; 
For, as love's wild prayer dissolved in air, 

Her woman's heart gave way; 
And the sin forgiven by Christ in heaven 

By man is cursed alway. 

There is about this little poem (evidently written in 
haste and throng impulse) a true imagination. Its 
grace, dignity, and pathos are impressive, and there 

3«9 



The Literati 



is more in it of eamestnesSy of soul| tban in anything 
I have seen from the pen of its author. IBs compo- 
sitions, in general, have a taint of worldliness, of in- 
sincerity. The identical rhyme in the last stanza is 
very noticeable, and the whole Snale is feeble. It 
would be improved by making the last two lines pre- 
cede the first two of the stanza. 

In classifying Mr. W.'s writings I did not think it 
worth while to speak of him as a dramatist, because, 
although he has written plays, what they have of 
merit is altogether in their character of poem. Of 
his Bianca Visconti I have little to say ; it deserved to 
fail, and did, although it abounded in eloquent pass- 
ages. Tortesa abounded in the same, but had a great 
many dramatic points well calculated to tell with a 
conventional audience. Its characters, with the ex- 
ception of Tomaso, a drunken buffoon, had no charac- 
ter at all, and the plot was a tissue of absurdities, 
inconsequences, and inconsistencies; yet I cannot 
help thinking it, upon the whole, the best play ever 
written by an American. 

Mr. Waa&a has made very few attempts at criticism, 
and those few (chiefly newspaper articles) have not 
impressed me with a high idea of his analytic abilities, 
although with a very high idea of his taste and dis- 
crimination. 

His style proper may be called extravagant, bizarre, 
pointed, epigrammatic without being antithetical (this 

330 



The Literati 



is very rarely the case), but, through all its whimsi- 
calities, graceful, classic, and accurate. He is very 
seldom to be cau^t tripping in the minor morals. 
His Bullish is correct; his most outrageous imagery 
is, at all events, unmixed. 

Mr. ^WnUis's career has naturally made him enemies 
among the envious host of dunces whom he has out- 
stripped in the race for fame ; and these his personal 
manner (a little tinctured with reserve, brusquerie, or 
even haughtiness) is by no means adapted to conciliate. 
He has innumerable warm friends, however, and is 
himself a warm friend. He is impulsive, generous, 
bold, impetuous, vacillating, irregularly energetic, apt 
to be hurried into error, but incapable of deliberate 
wrong. 

He is yet young, and, without being handsome, in 
the ordinary sense, is a remarkably well-looking man. 
In height, he is, perhaps, five feet eleven, and justly 
proportioned. His figure is put in the best light by 
the ease and assured grace of his carriage. His whole 
person and personal demeanor bear about them the 
traces of '* good society." His face is somewhat too 
full, or rather heavy, in its lower portions. Neither 
his nose nor his forehead can be defended ; the latter 
would puzzle phrenology. His eyes are a dull bluish- 
gray, and small. His hair is of a rich brown, curling 
naturally and luxuriantly. His mouth is well cut; 
the teeth fine ; the expression of the smile intellectual 

331 



The Literati 



and winning. He converses litfle, well rather tfaa 
fluently^ and in a subdued tone. The portrait of hu 
published about three years ago in Grabmrn's Magi 
zinc conveys by no means so true an idea of the ma 
as does the sketch (by Lawrence) ioaerted as fronti 
piece to a late collection of his poenuL 

WILLIAM M. GILLESPIE 



Mr. William M. GiUespie aided Mr. Park 
min, I believe, some years ago, in the editorial co 
duct of The New WorU, and has been otherwi 
connected with the periodical press of Hew Toi 
He is more favorably known, however, as tl 
author of a neat volume entitled Rome as Se^ 
by a New Yorkett — a good title to a good hoc 
The endeavor to convey Rome only by those u 
pressions which would naturally be made upon \ 
American gives the work a certain air of originaHi 
the rarest of aU qualities in descriptions of the Eten 
City. The style is pure and sparkling, although c 
casionally flippant and dilettantesque. The love 
remark is much in the usual way, sehn lea rkgl 
never very exceptionable and never very profound. 

Mr. Gille^e is not unaccomplished, convers 
readily on many topics, has some knowledge 
Italian, French, and, I believe, of the classical tongu 
with such proficiency in the mathematics as 1 

332 



The Literati 



obtained for him a professorship of dvil engineering 
at Union College, Schenectady. 

In character he has much general amiability, is 
warm-hearted, ezcitaUe, nervous. His address is 
somewhat awkward, but *' insinuating " from its 
warmth and yivadty. Speaks continuously and 
rapidly, with a lisp which, at times, is by no means 
unpleasing; is fidgety, and never knows how to sit 
or to stand, or what to do with his hands and feet, 
or his hat. In the street walks irregularly, mutters 
to himself, and, in general, appears in a state of pro- 
found abstraction. 

In person he is about five feet seven inches higli, 
neither stout nor thin, angularly proportioned; eyes 
large and dark hazel, hair dark and curling, an in- 
formed nose, fine teeth, and a smile of peculiar sweet- 
ness; nothing remarkable about the forehead. The 
general expression of the countenance when in repose 
is rather unprepossessing, but animation very much 
alters its character. He is probably thirty years of 
age, unmarried. 

* 

CHARLES F. BRIGGS 

Mr. Briggs is better known as '' Harry Franco,** a 
aom de plume assumed since the publication, in 
the Kokkfboektr Magaxlne^ of his series of papers 
called Adtentures of Harry Fraoeo* He also wrote 

333 



The Literati 



for the Kokkttbocket some articles entitled The 
Haunted Merchant^ which have been printed since 
as a novel, and from time to time subsequently 
has been a contributor to that joumaL The two 
productions just mentioned have some merit. 
They depend for their effect upon the relation in a 
straightforward manneri just as one would talk, of 
the most commonplace events, — ^a kind of writing 
which, to ordinary, and especially to indolent intellects, 
has a very observable charm. To cultivated or to 
active minds it is in an equal degree distasteful, even 
when claiming the merit of originality. Mr. Briggs' 
manner, however, is an obvious imitation of Smollett, 
and, as usual with all imitation, produces an unfavor- 
able impression upon those conversant with the or- 
iginaL It is a common failing, also, with imitators, 
to out-Herod Herod in aping the peculiarities of the 
model, and, too f requentiy, the faults are more pertin- 
aciously exaggerated than the merits. Thus, the au- 
thor of Harry Fraoeo carries the simplicity of Smollett 
sometimes to insipidity, and his picturesque low life is 
made to degenerate into sheer vulgarity. 

If Mr. Briggs has a hrte, it is a Flemish fidelity that 
omits nothing, whether agreeable or disagreeable ; but 
I cannot call this forte a virtue. He has also some 
humor, but nothing of an original character. Oc- 
casionally he has written good things. A magazine 
article, called Dobba and bh Cantelope, was quite 

334 



The Literati 



easy and clever in its way; but the way is necessarily 
a small one. And I ought not to pass over without 
some allusion to it, his sacred novel of Tom Pepper, 
As a novel, it really has not the slightest pretensions. 
To a genuine artist in literaturei he is as Plumbe to 
Sully. Plumbe's daguerreotypes have more fidelity 
than any portrait ever put on canvas, and so Briggs's 
sketches of E. A. Duyckinck (** Tibbings ") and the 
author of Puffer Hopkins (^'Ferocious") are as life-like 
as any portraits in words that have ever been drawn. 
But the subjects are little and mean, pretending and 
vulgar. Mr. Briggs would not succeed in delineating a 
gentleman. And some letters of his in Hiram Fuller's 
paper, perhaps for the reason that they run through a 
desert of stupidity, — some letters of his, I say, tmder 
the apt signature of ** Ferdinand Mendoza Pinto," are 
decidedly clever as examples of caricature ; absurd, of 
course, but sharply absurd, so that, with a knowledge 
of their design, one could hardly avoid occasional 
lau^ter. I once thought Mr. Briggs could cause 
laughter only by his efforts at a serious kind of 
writing. 

In connection with Mr. John Bisco, he was the 
originator of the late Broadway Joumalf my editorial 
association with that work not having commenced 
until the sixth or seventh number, although I wrote 
for it occasionally from the first Among the princi- 
pal papers contributed by Mr. B. were those discussing 

335 



The Literati 



the paintings at the preceding exhibition of the Acad- 
emy of Fine Arts in R ew York. I may be pennitted 
to say that there was scarcely a point in liis whole 
series of criticisms on this subject at which I did not 
radically disagree with him. Whatever taste he has 
in art iS| like his taste in lettersi Flemish. There is a 
portrait painter for whom he has an unlimited ad- 
miration. The unfortunate gentleman is Mr. Page. 

Mr. Briggs is about five feet six inches in height, 
somewhat slightly framed, with a sharp, thin face, 
narrow forehead, nose sufficiently prominent, mouth 
rather pleasant in expression, eyes not so good, gray 
and small, although occasionally brilliant In dress 
he is apt to affect the artist, felicitating himself espe- 
cially upon his personal acquaintance with artists and 
his general connoisseurship. He walks with a quick, 
nervous step. His address is quite good, frank and 
insinuating. His conversation has now and then the 
merit of humor, and more frequently of a smartness, 
allied to wit, but he has a perfect mania for contradic- 
tion, and it is sometimes impossible to utter an unin- 
terrupted sentence in his hearing. He has much 
warmth of feeling, and is not a person to be disliked, 
although very apt to irritate and annoy. ' Two of his 
most marked characteristics are vacillation of pur- 
pose and a passion for being mysterious. He has, 
apparently, travelled; has some knowledge of French; 
has been engaged in a variety of employments, and 

336 



The Literati 



now, I believe, occupies a lawyer's office in Nassau 
Street He is from Cape Cod or R antucket, is married, 
and is the centre of a little circle of rather intellectual 
people, of which the Kirklands, Lowell, and some 
other notabilities are honorary members. He goes 
Uttle into general society, and seems about forty years 
of age* 

Wn^LIAM KmBXAHD 

Kr. 'Vniliam Eirkland, husband of the author 
of A New Home, has written much for the maga- 
zines, but has made no collection of his works. A 
series of Letten from Abroad have been among his 
most popular compositions. He was in Europe for 
some time, and is well acquainted with the French 
language and Uterature, as also with the German. 
He aided Dr. Turner in the late translation of Von 
Raumer*8 Amerieat published by the Langleys. 
One of his best magazine papers appeared in the 
Columbian, a review of the London Foreign Ouar^ 
terljr for April, 1844. The arrogance, ignorance, 
and self-glorification of the Quarterly, with its gross 
injustice toward everything un-British, were severely 
and palpably exposed, and its narrow malignity shown 
to be especially malAt^propoa in a journal exclusively 
devoted to foreign concerns, and therefore presumably 
with something of a cosmopolitan spirit An 



The Literati 



article on EogltMb and American MonibUea in 
Godey^M Magazine and one entitled Our BngUMli 
Visitors, in the Columbian, have also been extensively 
read and admired. A valuable essay on The Tyranny 
of Public Opinion in tbe United States (published 
in the Columbian for December, 1845)1 demon- 
strates the truth of Jefferson's assertioui that in this 
countryi which has set the world an example of physi- 
cal libertyi the inquisition of popular sentiment over- 
rules in practice the freedom asserted in theory by 
the laws. The West, tbe Paradise ot tbe Poor, and 
Tbe United States Census for 1830, the former in the 
Democratic Review, the latter in Hunfs Mercbants' 
Magazine, with sundry essays in the daily papers, 
complete the list of Mr. Kirkland's works. It will be 
seen that he has written little, but that little is entitled 
to respect for its simplicity and the evidence n^ch 
it affords of scholarship and diligent research. What- 
ever Mr. Kirkland does is done carefully. He is oc- 
casionally very caustic, but seldom without cause. 
His style is vigorous, precise, and, notwithstand- 
ing his foreign acquirements, free from idiomatic 
peculiarities. 

Mr. Kirkland is beloved by all who know him; in 
character mild, unassuming, benevolent, yet not with- 
out becoming energy at times ; in person rather short 
and slight ; features indistinctive ; converses well and 
zealously, although his hearing is defective. 

338 



The Literati 



JOmr W. FRANCIS 

Doctor Frands, although by no means a litterateur, 
cannot well be omitted in an accoimt of the If ew York 
literati In his capacity of physician and medical leo- 
torer, he is far too well known to need comment He 
was the pupil, Mend, and partner of Hossack — ^the 
pupil of Abemethy — connected in some manner with 
everything that has been well said or done medicinally 
in America. As a medical essayist he has always 
commanded the highest respect and attention. Among 
the points he has made at various times, I may men- 
tion his anatomy of drunkenness, his views of the 
Asiatic cholera, his analysis of the Avon waters of 
the state, his establishment of the comparative im- 
munity of the constitution from a second attack of 
yellow fever, and his pathological propositions on the 
changes wrought in the system by specific poisons 
through their assimilation, propositions remarkably 
sustained and enforced by recent discoveries of 



In unprofessional letters Doctor Francis has also ac- 
complished much, although necessarily in a discursive 
manner, ffis biography of Chancellor Livingston, his 
horticultural discourse, his discourse at the opening of 
the new hall of the Rew York Lyceum of Natural His- 
tory, are (each in its way) models of fine writing just 
sufficiently toned down by an indomitable common 

339 



The Literati 



sense. I had nearly forgotten to mention his admir 
aUe sketch of the personal associations of Bisho] 
Berkleji of Newport 

Doctor Fnmds is one of the old spirits of the Ne^ 
York Historical Society, ffis philanthropy, his active 
untiring beneficence, will forever render his name i 
household word among the truly Christian of heart 
BQs professional services and his purse are always a 
the command of the needy; few of our wealthiest mei 
have ever contributed to the relief of distress s 
bountifully; none certainly with greater readiness o 
with warmer sympathy. 

His person and manner are richly peculiar. He i 
short and stout, probably five feet eight in height 
limbs of great muscularity and strength, the who! 
frame indicating prodigious vitality and energy; tli 
latter is, in fact, the leading trait in his charactei 
BQs head is large, massive, the features in keepinj 
complexion dark florid; eyes piercingly bright ; mout 
exceedingly mobile and expressive; hair gray, an 
worn in matted locks about the neck and shoulder! 
eyebrows to correspond, jagged and ponderous. H 
age is about fifty-eight His general appearance 
such as to arrest attention. 

His address is the most genial that can be conceives 
its bonhomie irresistible. He speaks in a loud, dea 
hearty tone, dogmatically, with his head thrown bac 
and his chest out; never waits for an introduction t 

340 



The Literati 



anybody; daps a perfect stranger on the back and 
calk him ** Doctor " or ** Learned Theban " ; pats 
every lady on the head, and (if she be pretty and petite) 
designates her by some such title as ** My Pocket 
Edition of the Lives of the Saints." His conversation 
proper is a sort of Roman punch made up of tragedy, 
comedy, and the broadest of all possible farce. He 
has a natural felicitous flow of talk, always over- 
swelling its boundaries and sweeping everything be- 
fore it, right and left He is very earnest, intense, 
emphatic ; thumps the table with his fist ; shocks the 
nerves of the ladies. His Ibrte, after all, is humor, 
the richest conceivable, a compound of Swift, Rabelais, 
and the clown in the pantomime. He is married. 

AHNA CORA MOWATT 

Mrs. Mowatt is in some respects a remarkable wo- 
man, and has undoubtedly wrought a deeper impression 
upon the public than any one of her sex in America. 

She became first known through her recitations. 
To these she drew large and discriminating audiences 
in Boston, New York, and elsewhere to the north and 
east Her subjects were much in the usual way of 
these exhibitions, including comic as well as serious 
pieces, chiefly in verse. In her selections she evinced 
no very refined taste, but was probably influenced by 
the elocutionary rather than by the literary value of 

341 



The Literati 



her programmes. She read well; her voice was me- 
lodious; her youth and general appearance ezdted 
interest, but, upon the whole, she produced no great 
effect, and the enterprise may be termed unsuccessful, 
although the press, as is its wont, spoke in the most 
sonorous tone of her success. 

It was during these recitations that her name, pre- 
fixed to occasional tales, sketches, and brief poems 
in the magazines, first attracted an attention tha^ 
but for the recitations, it might not have attracted. 

Her sketches and tales may be said to be deverl] 
written. They are lively, easy, conventional, scintil- 
lating with a species of sarcastic wit which might hi 
termed good were it in any respect originaL In poin 
of style, that is to say, of mere English, they are ver 
respectable. One of the best of her prose pieces i 
entitled Ennui and ItB Antidote, published in thi 
Columbian Magazine for June, 1845. The subject 
however, is an exceedingly hackneyed one. 

In looking carefully over her poems, I find no on 
entitled to commendation as a whole; in very fe^ 
of them do I observe even noticeable passages, and 
confess that I am surprised and disappointed at thi 
result of my inquiry; nor can I make up my min 
that there is not much latent poetical power in Mn 

Mowatt From some lines addressed to Isabel M 

I copy the opening stanza as the most favorable sped 
men which I have seen of her verse: 

S4a 



The Literati 



Forever Taniflhed from tfay cheek 

Is life's unfolding rose; 
Forever quenched the flashing smile 

That conscious beauty knows I 
Thine orbs are lustrous with a light 

Which ne'er illumes the eye 
Till heaven is bursting on the sight 

And earth is fleeting by. 

In this there is mtich f orcei and the idea in the con- 
cluding quatrain is so well put as to have the air of 
originality. Indeed, I am not sure that the thought 
of the last two lines is not original; at all events it is 
exceedingly natural and impressive. I say '' natural,'' 
because, in any imagined ascent from the orb we in- 
habit, when heaven should '' burst on the sig^t," in 
other words, when the attraction of the planet should 
be superseded by that of another sphere, then in- 
stantly would the ** earth " have the appearance of 
^ fleeting by." The versification, also, is much better 
here than is usual with the poetess. In general she 
is rough, through excess of harsh consonants. The 
whole poem is of higher merit than any which I can 
find with her name attached; but there is Uttle of the 
spirit of poesy in anything she writes. She evinces 
more feeling than ideality. 

Her first decided success was with her comedy, 
pMbhOf although much of this success itself is 
referable to the interest felt in her as a beautiful 
woman and an authoress. 

343 



The Literati 



The play is not without merit. It may be com- 
n^nded especially for its simplicity of plot What the 
Spanish playwrights mean by dramas of intrigue are 
the worst acting dramas in the world; the intellect of 
an audience can never safely be fatigued by com- 
plexity. The necessity for verbose explanation, how- 
ever, on the part of Trueman, at the dose of the play, 
is in this r^ard a serious defect A ct^notiemeof should 
in all cases be taken up with action, with nothing 
else. Whatever cannot be explained by such action 
should be communicated at the opening of the story. 

In the i^ot, however estimable for simplicity, there 
is, of course, not a particle of originality of invention. 
Had it, indeed, been designed as a burlesque iq>on the 
arrant conventionality of stage incidents in general, it 
might have been received as a palpaUe hit There is 
not an event, a character, a jest, which is not a well- 
understood thing, a matter of course, a stage-property 
time out of mind* The general tone is adopted from 
The School tor Scandal^ to which, indeed, the whole 
composition bears just such an affinity as the shell of 
a locust to the locust that tenants it, as the spectrum 
of a Congreve rocket to the Congreve rocket itself. 
In the management of her imitation, nevertheless, 
Mrs. Mowatt has, I think, evinced a sense of theatrical 
effect or point which may lead her, at no very distant 
day, to compose an exceedingly taking, although it can 
never much aid her in composing a very meritorious, 

344 



The Literati 



dnuxuL Pttsbha, in a word, owes what it had of suc- 
€688 to its being the work of a lovely woman who had 
already excited interest, and to the very common- 
placeness or spirit of conventionality which rendered 
it readily comprehensible and appreciable by the public 
proper. It was much indebted, too, to the carpets, the 
ottomans, the chandeliers, and the conservatories, 
wbicb. gained so decided a popularity for that despicable 
mass of inanity, the London Assurance of Boudcault 

Since Rtsbion, Mrs. Mowatt has published one or 
two brief novels in pamphlet form, but they have no 
particular merit, although they afford glimpses (I can- 
not help thinking) of a genius as yet unrevealed, except 
in her capacity of actress. 

In this capacity, if she be but true to herself, she 
will assuredly win a very enviable distinction. She 
has done well, wonderfully well, both in tragedy and 
comedy ; but if she knew her own strength, she would 
confine herself nearly altogether to the depicting (in 
letters not less than on the stage) the more gentle 
sentiments and the Aost profound passions. Her 
sympathy with the latter is evidently intense. In the 
utterance of the truly generous, of the really noble, 
of the unaffectedly passionate, we see her bosom 
heave, her cheek grow pale, her limbs tremble, her lip 
quiver, and nature's own tear rush impetuously to the 
eye. It is this freshness of the heart which will pro- 
vide for her the greenest laurels. It is this enthusiasm, 

345 



The 



fhis wdl of deep feeling, which should be made to 
prove for her an inexhaustible source of fame. As an 
actress, it is to her a mine of wealth worth all the 
dawdling instruction in the world. Mrs. Mowatt, on 
her first appearance as Paulinei was quite as able to 
give lessons in stage routine to any actor or actress 
in America as was any actor or actress to give les- 
sons to her. Row, at least, she should throw all 
*' support'' to the winds, trust proudly to her own 
sense of art, her own rich and natural elocution, her 
beauty, which is unusual, her grace, which is queenly, 
and be assured that these qualities, as she no w possesses 
them, are all sufficient to render her a great actress, 
when considered simply as the means by which the 
end of natural acting is to be attained, as the mere 
instruments by which she may effectively and unim- 
pededly lay bare to the audience the movements of 
her own passionate heart 

Indeed, the great charm of her manner is its natural- 
ness. She looks, speaks, and moves with a well-con- 
trolled impulsiveness, as different as can be conceived 
from the customary rant and cant, the hack conven- 
tionality of the stage. Her voice is rich and volum- 
inous, and although by no means powerful, is so well 
managed as to seem so. Her utterance is singularly 
distinct, its sole blemish being an occasional Anglicism 
of accent, adopted probably from her instructor, Mr. 
Crisp. Her reading could scarcely be improved. Her 

346 



The Literati 



action is distinguished by an ease and self-possession 
wliich would do credit to a veteran. Her step is the 
perfection of grace. Often have I watched her for 
hours with the closest scnitinyi yet never for an in- 
stant did I observe her in an attitude of the least 
awkwardness or even constraint, while many of her 
seemingly impulsive gestures spoke in loud terms of 
the woman of genius, of the poet imbued with the 
prof oimdest sentiment of the beautiful in motion. 

Her figure is slight, even fragile. Her face is a re- 
markably fine one, and of that precise character best 
adapted to the stage. The forehead is, perhaps, the 
least prepossessing feature, although it is by no means 
an unintellectual one. Hair light auburn, in rich pro- 
fusion, and always arranged with exquisite taste. 
The eyes are gray, brilliant, and expressive, without 
being full. The nose is well formed, with the Roman 
curve, and indicative of energy. This quality is also 
shown in the somewhat excessive prominence of the 
chin. The mouth is large, with brilliant and even teeth 
and flexible lips, capable of the most instantaneous 
and effective variation of expression. A more radiantly 
beautiful smile it is quite impossible to conceive. 

GEORGE B. CHEEVER 

The Reverend George B. Cheever created at one 
time something of an excitement by the publication of a 
little brochure entitled Deacon Gilea' DhtUlery, He is 

347 



The Literati 



much better known, however, as the editor of The 
Commonphee Book otAaieriean Poetryt a work which 
has at least the merit of not belying its title, and is 
exceedingly commonplace. I am ashamed to say that 
for several years this compilation afforded to Europeans 
the only material from which it was possible to form 
an estimate of the poetical ability of Americans. The 
selections appear to me exceedingly injudicious, and 
have all a marked leaning to the didactic. Dr. Cheever 
is not without a certain sort of negative ability as 
critic, but works of this character should be undertaken 
by poets or not at alL The verses which I have seen 
attributed to him are undeniably midioercM, 

His principal publications, in addition to those men- 
tioned above, are God'9 Hand in Amerka, Wanders 
inga of a Pilgrim under the Sliadow of Mount Blanc, 
Wanderinga of a Pilgrim under the Shadow ofjungfraut 
and, lately, a Defence of Capital Puniahment This 
Defence is at many points well reasoned, and as a dear 
rtaumi of all that has been already said on its own side 
of the question, may be considered as commendable. 
Its premises, however, (as well as those of all reasoners 
pro or con on this vexed topic,) are admitted only very 
partially by the world at large, — a fact of which the 
author affects to be ignorant. If either does he make 
the subtest attempt at bringing forward one novel 
argument Any man of ordinary invention might 
have adduced and maintained a dozen. 

348 



The Literati 



The two series of Waadertng^ are, periiaps, the best 
works of tiieir writer. They are what is called ^ elo- 
quent "; a little too much in that way, perhaps, but 
nevertheless entertaining. 

CHARLES AHTHON 

Doctor Charles Anthon is the well-known Jay-Pro- 
fessor of the Greek and Latin languages in Columbia 
College, New York, and Rector of the Grammar SchooL 
If not absolutely the best, he is at least generally con- 
adered the best, classicist in America. In Eng^d, 
and in Europe at large, his scholastic acquirements are 
more sincerely respected than those of any of our 
countrymen, ffis additions to Lempri^ are there 
justiy regarded as evincing a nice perception of method, 
and accurate as well as eztensiye erudition, but his 
Cyassfca/ IHedonary has superseded the work of the 
Frenchman altogether. Most of Professor Antiion's 
publications have been adopted as text-books at Ox- 
ford and Cambridge, an honor to be properly under- 
stood only by tiiose acquainted with tiie many high 
requisites for attaining it. As a commentator (if not 
exactiy as a critic) he may rank witii any of his day, 
and has evinced powers very unusual in men ^o 
devote tiieir lives to classical lore, ffis accuracy is 
very remarkable; in this particular he is always to 
be relied upon. The trait manifests itself even in his 

349 



The Literati 



MS., ^riiich is a model of neatness and symmetry, 
exceeding in these respects anything of tiie kind with 
which I am acquainted. It is somewhat too neat, 
perhaps, and too regular, as well as diminutive, to be 
called beautiful; it might be mistaken at any time, 
however, for very elaborate copperplate engraving. 

But his chirography, altiiough fully in keeping, so 
far as precision is concerned, witii his mental char- 
acter, is, in its entire freedom from flourish or super- 
fluity, as much out of keeping witii his verbal style. 
In his notes to tiie classics he is singularly Ciceronian, 
if, indeed, not positively Johnsonese. 

An attempt was made not long ago to prepossess 
the public against his Chttical Dkthnary, tiie most 
important of his works, by getting up a hue and cry 
of plagiarism, in the case of all similar books the 
most preposterous accusation in the world, although, 
from its very preposterousness, one not easily rebutted. 
Obviously, the design in any such compilation is, in the 
flrst place, to make a useful school-book or book of 
reference, and tiie scholar ^o should be weak enough 
to neglect this indispensable point for the mere pur- 
pose of winning credit witii a few bookish men for 
originality would deserve to be dubbed, by the 
public at least, a dunce. There are very few points 
of classical scholarship which are not the common 
property of " the learned " throughout the world, and 
in composing any book of reference recourse is un- 

3SO 



The Literati 



scrupuloiidy and even necessarily had in all cases to 
similar books which have preceded. In availing 
themselves of these latter, however, it is tiie practice 
of quacks to paraphrase page after page, rearranging 
the order of paragraphs, making a slight alteration in 
point of fact here and tiiere, but preserving the spirit of 
the whole, its information, erudition, etc., etc, while 
everything is so completely rewritten as to leave no 
room for a direct charge of plagiarism ; and this is 
considered and lauded as originality. Now, he who, 
in availing himself of the labors of his predecessors 
(and it is clear that all scholars must avail themselves 
of such labors) — ^he who shall copy verbatim tiie pas- 
sages to be desired, without attempt at palming off 
their spirit as original with himself, is certainly no 
plagiarist, even if he fail to make direct acknowledg- 
ment of indebtedness — ^is unquestionably less of the 
plagiarist than tiie disingenuous and contemptible 
quack who wriggles himself, as above explained, into 
a reputation for originality, a reputation quite out of 
place in a case of this kind, tiie public, of course, 
never caring a straw whetiier he be original or not 
These attacks upon tiie New York professor are to be 
attributed to a clique of pedants in and about Boston, 
gentlemen envious of his success, and whose own 
compilations are noticeable only for the singular 
patience and ingenuity witii which tiieir dovetailing 
chicanery is concealed from the public eye. 

351 



The Literati 



Doctor An^oa is, perhaps, forty-di^t jttm of age; 
about five feet eight inches in height; rather stout; 
faircompleiiQn; hair light and inclined to curl ; fore- 
head remarkaUy broad and high; eye gray, dear, and 
penetrating; moutii well-formed, witii excellent teeth, 
tiie lips having great flexibility, and consequent power 
of expression; the smile particularly pleasing. His 
address in general is bold, frank, cordial, full of ion" 
bomie* ffis ^ole air is dhtiagui in the best under- 
standing of the term; that is to say, he would impress 
any one at first si^t witii tiie idea of his being no or- 
dinary man. He has qualities, indeed, ^riiich would 
have assured him eminent success in almost any pur- 
suit; and tiiere are times in which his friends are 
half disposed to regret his exclusive devotion to classical 
literature. He was one of the originatorB of tiie late 
ATew York Fewiew, his associates in the conduct and 
proprietorship being Doctor F. L. Hawks and Pro- 
fessor R. C. Henry. By far the most valuaMe papers, 
however, were those of Doctor A. 

RALPH HOYT 

The Reverend Ralph Hoyt is known chiefly, at least 
to tiie worid of letters, by Tlbe Cbaunt of Life and Other 
Poema, with Sketehee and Easaya^ The publication 
of this work, however, was never completed, only a 
portion of the poems having appeared, and none of the 

352 



The Literati 



essays or sketches. It is hoped that we shall yet have 
tiiese latter. 

Of the poems issued, one, entitled OMf had so many 
peculiar excellences that I copied the whole of it, al- 
tiiough quite long, in The Broadway JouraaL It will 
remind every reader of Durand's fine picture, An 
OU Man's Fecollecthns, although between poem and 
painting there is no more than a very admissible 
similarity. 

I quote a stanza from Old (the opening one) by way 
of bringing tiie piece to the remembrance of any who 
may have forgotten it : 

By the wayside^ on a mossy stone, 
Sat a hoary pilgrim sadly musing; 

Oft I marked him sitting there alone, 
All the landscape like a page perusing; 
Poor unknown, 

By the wajrside, on a mossy stone. 

The quaintness aimed at here is, so far as a single 
stanza is concerned, to be defended as a legitimate 
effect, conferring high pleasure on a numerous and 
cultivated class of minds. Mr. Hoyt, however, in his 
continuous and uniform repetition of the first line in 
the last of each stanza of twenty-five, has by much 
exceeded the proper limits of the quaint and impinged 
upon the ludicrous. The poem, nevertheless, abounds 
in lofty merit, and has, in especial, some passages of 
rich imagination and exquisite pathos. For example : 

▼OL. VIIX,— «3. ^ c -J 



The Literati 



SeeiiMd it pitifnl ht dionld rit time. 

No oiM sympathizing, no one heeding, 
None to love him for hii thin gray 



One sweet ^irit broke the sUent spell — 
Ah, to me her name was always HeavenI 

She besoni^t him all his grief to tell— 
(I was tlien thirteen and she eleven)— 
Isabell 

One sweet spirit broke the sUent spelL 

** Angel," said he, sadly, «« I am old; 

Earthly hope no longer hath a morrow; 
Why I sit here thon shalt soon be told "— 

Then his eye betrayed a peail of sorrow, — 
Down it rolled — 
** Angel," said he, sadly, «« I am oldl " 

It must be confeased that some portions of Oi 
(which is by far tiie best of tiie collection) remind u 
forcibly of the Oid Man of Oliver Wendell Holmes. 

Pi^emu9 is the concluding poem of tiie volume 
and itself concludes with an exceedingly vigorou 
stanza, putting me not a little in mind of Campbel 
in his best days : 

O'er all the silent sky 

A dark and scolding frown— 
But darker scowled each eye 
When aU resolved to die — 
When (night of dread renown!) 
A thousand stars went down. 

354 



The Literati 



Mr. Hoyt is about forty years of age, of the 
mediiiiii height, pale complexion, dark hair and eyes. 
His coimtenanee expresses sensibility and benevolence. 
He co n v ers es slowly and witii perfect deliberation. 
Heismamed. 

6ULIAN C. VERPLANCK 

Mr. Veiplanck has acquired reputation, at least his 
literary reputation, less from what he has done than 
from what he has given indication of ability to do. 
Ws best, if not his principal works, have been ad- 
dresses, orations, and contributions to the reviews. His 
schdarBhip is more than respectable, and his taste 
and acumen are not to be disputed. 

ffis legal acquirements, it is admitted, are very con- 
siderable. When in Congress he was noted as tiie 
most industrious man in that assembly, and acted as 
a walking register or volume of reference, ever at the 
service of that class of legislators who are too lofty- 
minded to burden tiieir memories with mere business 
particulars or matters of fact Of late years the 
energy of his character appears to have abated, and 
many of his friends go so far as to accuse him of 
indolence. 

His family is quite influential, one of the few old 
Dutch ones retaining tiieir social position. 

Mr. Veiplanck is short in stature, not more tlian five 

355 



The Literati 



feet five inches in hdght, and compactly or stoutly 
bttilt The head is square^ massive, and covered witb 
thick, bushy, and grizzly hair; tiie cheeks are ruddy; 
lips red and full, indicating a relish for good cheer; 
nose short and straight; eyebrows much arched; eyes 
dark Mue, witii what seems, to a casual glance, e 
sleepy expression, but tiiey gatiier light and fire as wc 
examine tiiem. 

He must be sixty, but a vigorous constitution gives 
promise of a ripe and healthful old age. He is active 
walks firmly, with a short, quick step. Bis manner ii 
affable, or (more accurately) sociable. He converses 
weU, although witii no great fluency, and has hi: 
hobbies of talk; is especially fond of old Engiisl 
literature. Altogether, his person, intellect, tastes 
and general peculiarities bear a very striking resem* 
Uance to those of tiie late Nicholas Biddle. 

FREEMAN HUNT 

Mr. Hunt is editor and proprietor of tiie well-knowx 
MercbantB' Magaziae, one of the most useful of ou: 
monthly journals, and decidedly the best *< property *' o 
any work of its class. In its establishment he evince< 
many remarkable traits of character. He was entirel] 
without means, and even much in debt, and otherwise 
embarrassed, when by one of those intuitive perception 
which belong only to genius, but which are usually at 

3S6 



The Literati 



tributed to " good luck," the ** happy " idea entered his 
head of getting up a magazine devoted to the interests 
of tiie influential class of merchants. The chief hap- 
piness of this idea, however (which no doubt had been 
entertained and discarded by a hundred projectors be- 
fore Mr. H.), consisted in the method by which he 
proposed to carry it into operation. Neglecting tiie 
hackneyed modes of advertising largely, circulating 
flashy prospectuses and sending out numerous ''agents," 
who, in general, merely serve tiie purpose of boring 
people into a very temporary support of the work in 
whose behalf tiiey are employed, he took the ^ole 
matter resolutely into his own hands; called person- 
ally, in the flrst place, upon his immediate mercantile 
friends; explained to them frankly and sucdnctly his 
object; put tiie value and necessity of the contem- 
plated publication in tiie best ligjit, as he well knew 
how to do, and in this manner obtained to head his 
subscription list a good many of the most eminent 
business men in New York. Armed witii their names 
and with recommendatory letters from many of tiiem, 
he now pushed on to the other chief cities of the 
Union, and thus, in less time than is taken by ordinary 
men to make a preparatory flourish of trumpets, sue* 
ceeded in building up for himself a permanent fortune, 
and for the public a journal of immense interest and 
value. In the whole proceeding he evinced a tact, a 
kno^edge of mankind, and a self-dependence which 

357 



The Literati 



are the staple of eren greater achievements than 
the establishment of a five-dollar magazine. In the 
sabsequent conduct of the work he gave evidence of 
equal ability. Having without aid put tiie magazine 
upon a satisfactory footing as regards its circulation, 
he also without aid undertook its editorial and business 
conduct, from tiie first .germ of the conception to the 
present moment having kept the wh(de undertaking 
within his own hands. His subscribers and regular 
contributors are now among the most intelligent and 
influential in America; the journal is regarded as ab- 
solute authority in mercantile matters, circulates ex- 
tensively not only in this country, but in Europe, and 
even in regions more remote, affording its worthy and 
enterprising projector a large income, which no one 
knows better than himself how to put to good use. 

The strong points, the marked peculiarities of Mr. 
Hunt could not have failed in arresting the attention 
of all observers of character; and Mr. Willis in especial 
has made him the subject of repeated comment. I 
copy what follows from the New York Mirror i 

<< Hunt has been gjorifled in the Hong-Kong Gazette, 
is regularly complimented by the English mercantile 
authorities, has every bank in the world for an eager 
subscriber, every consul, every ship owner and navi- 
gator ; is filed away as authority in every library, and 
thought of in half the countries of the world as early as 

3S8 



The 



No. 3 in fhdr enumeration of distinguished Ameri- 
cans; yet who seeks to do him honor in the dty he 
does honor to ? The MerebantB' Magazine, though a 
prodigy of perseverance and industry, is not an acci- 
dental development of Hunt's energies. He has always 
been singularly sagacious and original in devising new 
works and good ones. He was the founder of the first 
Ladies' Magazine,^ of the first children's periodical ; he 
started the American Magazine of Useful and Bnieti' 
taining Knowledge, compiled the best-known collec* 
tion of American anecdotes, and is an indefatigable 
writer, the author, among other things, of Letters 
About the Hudson* 

" Hunt was a playfellow of ours in round-jacket 
days, and we have always looked at him witii a remin- 
iscent interest ffis luminous, eager eyes, as he goes 
along the street, keenly bent on his errand, would 
impress any observer witii an idea of his genius and 
determination, and we think it quite time his earnest 
head was in the engraver's hand, and his daily passing 
by a mark for the dfglto monstrarL Few more worthy 
or more valuable citizens are among us." 

Much of Mr. Hunf s character is included in what I 
have already said and quoted. He is *' earnest," 
*' eager," combining in a very singular manner general 
coolness and occasional excitability. He is a true 

*■ At tUb palat Mr. WUHi !■• peduipt. In wrar. 

359 



The 



i 



friend, and fhe enemy of no man. His heart is full 
of tiie wannest sympathies and charities. If o one in 
New York is more universally popular. 

He is about five feet eight inches in height, well 
proportioned; complexion dark-florid; forehead ca- 
pacious ; chin massive and projecting, indicative (ac- 
cording to Lavater and general experience) of that 
energy which is, in fact, the chief point of his charac- 
ter; hair light brown, very fine, of a web-like texture, 
worn long and fioating about tiie face ; eyes of wonder- 
ful brilliancy and intensity of expression; the whole 
countenance beaming with sensibility and intelligence* 
He is married and about thirty-eight years of age. 

PIERO HAROir CELLI 

During his twelve years' imprisonment, Xaroncelli 
composed a number of poetical works, some of which 
were committed to paper, others lost for the want of it 
In this country he has published a volume entitled 
Additions to Hie Memoin of SUrh Pellico, containing 
numerous anecdotes of tiie captivity not recorded in 
Pellico's work, and an EsBay on dbe Ciassie and Ro^ 

^ mantic Sdiools, the autiior proposing to divide them 

anew and designate them by novel distinctions. There 
is at least some scholarship and some originality in 
this essay. It is also brief. Maroncelli regards it as 
tiie best of his compositions. It is strongly tinctured 

I with transcendentalism. The volume contains, like- 

360 



The Literati 



wise, some poems, of which tiie Psalm of Uk and 
tiie Psalm of the Dawn have never been translated 
into English. Winds of the Wakened Springs one of 
tiie pieces included, has been happily rendered by Mr. 
Halleck, and is the most favorable specimen that could 
have been selected. These AddMons accompanied a 
Boston version of My Prisons, by Silvio PeUico. 

MaronceUi is now about fifty years old, and bears 
on his person tiie marks of long suffering; he has 
lost a leg; his hair and beard became gray many 
years ago; just now he is suffering from severe ill- 
ness, and from this it can scarcely be expected that 
he will recover. 

In figure he is short and slight, ffis forehead is 
rather low, but broad. His eyes are light blue and 
weak. The nose and moutii are large. Bis features 
in general have all the Italian mobility; tiieir expres- 
sion is animated and full of intelligence. He speaks 
hurriedly and gesticulates to excess. He is irritable, 
frank, generous, chivalrous, warmly attached to his 
friends, and expecting from tiiem equal devotion, ffis 
love of country is unbounded, and he is quite enthusi- 
astic in his endeavors to circulate in America the 
literature of Italy. 

LAUGHTON OSBORN 

Personally, Mr. Osbom is little known as an autiior, 
either to the public or in literary society, but he has 

3^1 



The Literati 



made a great many ** sensationa '* anonymoiialy, or 
with a oom de plume* I am not sure that he has 
published anything with his own name. 

One of his earliest works, if not his earliest, was 
The Adrtntures of Jeremy Lerbf by Himself , in one 
volume, a kind of medley of fact, fiction, satire, criti- 
dam, and novel philosophy. It is a dashing, reckless 
brocburef brimful of talent and audacity. Of course 
it was covertly admired by tiie few, and loudly con- 
denmed by all of the many who can fairly be said to 
have seen it at all. It had no great circulation. There 
was something wrong, I fancy, in tiie mode of its issue. 

Jeremy Lerh was followed by The Dream ofAUa^ 
Ad^DeeOf item the romance of ^Anaataaia,'' by Qiarlea 
EraUne Whhe, DJ), This is a thin pamphlet of 
thirty-two pages, each page containing about one 
hundred and forty words. AUa-Ad-Deen is the son 
of Aladdin of " wonderful lamp *' memory, and the 
story is in the Vbhn of Mirza or Raaaelaa way. 
The design is to reconcile us to death and evil, on the 
somewhat unphilosophical ground that, comparatively, 
we are of little importance in tiie scale of creation. 
The author himself supposes this scale to be infinite, 
and thus his argument proves too much; for if evil 
should be regarded by man as of no consequence be- 
cause, << comparatively,*' he is of none, it must be re- 
garded as of no consequence by the angels for a similar 
reason, and so on in a never-ending ascent. In other 



The Literati 



words, the only thing proved is tiie rather buU-ish 
proposition that evil is no evil at alL I do not find that 
the Dream elicited any attention. It would have been 
more appropriately published in one of our magazines. 
Next in order came, I believe, The Confesshns of a 
Poeif by Hhnsell This was in two volumes, of the 
ordinary novel form, but printed very openly. It made 
much noise in tiie literary world, and no Utile curiosity 
was excited in regard to its author, ^o was generally 
supposed to be John If eaL There were some grounds 
for this supposition, tiie tone and matter of the narra- 
tive bearing much resemblance to tiiose of Errata and 
Seventy^Six, especially in the points of boldness and 
vigor. The Confeaaions, however, far surpassed any 
production of Mr. Real's in a certain air of cultiva- 
tion (if not exactly of scholarship) which pervaded it, 
as well as in tiie management of its construction, a 
particular in which the author of The Battle of Niagara 
invariably fails; tiiere is no precision, no finish, about 
anything he does — always an excessive force, but little 
of refined art. Mr. N. seems to be deficient in a sense 
of completeness. He begins weU, vigorously, start- 
lingly, and proceeds by fits, quite at random, now 
prosing, now exciting vivid interest, but his conclu- 
sions are sure to be hurried and indistinct, so that the 
reader perceives a falling off, and closes tiie book witii 
dissatisfaction. He has done nothing which, as a 
^ole, is even respectable, and the Confeaahoa are 

363 



The Literati 



qtiite nrmarkahle for their artistic unity and perfection. 
But in higher regards they are to be commended. I 
do not think, indeed, that a better book of its kind 
has been written in America. To be sure, it is not 
precisely the work to pUce in the hands of a lady, 
but its scenes of passion are intensely wrou^^t, its 
inddents are striking and original, its sentiments au- 
dacious and suggestive at least, if not at all times 
tenable. In a word, it is that rare thing, a fiction of 
power without rudeness. Its spirit, in general, resem- 
bles that of Mi»ctrimuB and Martin Pdber. 

Partly on account of vrtiat most persons would term 
their licentiousness, partly, also, on account of the 
prevalent idea that Mr. Neal (who was never very 
popular with the press) had written them, the Con^ 
kttions, by the newspapers, were most unscrupulously 
misrepresented and abused. The Commercial Adrer^ 
daer of New York, was, it appears, foremost in con- 
demnation, and Mr. Osborn thought proper to avenge 
his wrongs by the publication of a bulky satirical 
poem levelled at the critics in general, but more espe- 
cially at Colonel Stone, the editor of the CommerciaL 
This satire (which was published in exquisite stj^e as 
regards print and paper) was entitied Tbe Vision of 
Rubeta, Owing to the high price necessarily set upon 
the book, no great many copies were sold, but the few 
that got into circulation made quite a hubbub, and 
reason, for the satire was not only Utter but 

364 



The Literati 



penonal in the last degree. It was, moreover, very 
censorably indecent ; filthy is, perhaps, the more ap- 
propriate word. The press, without exception, or 
nearly so, condemned it in loud terms, without taking 
the trouble to investigate its pretendons as a literary 
work. But as The CoafettionB of a Poet was one of 
the best novels of its kind ever written in this country, 
so The Vision ofRtibeta was decidedly the best satire. 
For its vulgarity and gross personality there is no de- 
fence, but its mordacity cannot be gainsaid. In call- 
ing it, however, the best American satire, I do not 
intend any excessive commendation ; for it is, in fact, 
the only satire composed by an American. Trum- 
bull's clumsy work is nothing at all, and then we 
have Halleck's CroakerSf which is very feeble, but 
what is there besides ? The Vision is our best satire, 
and still a sadly deficient one. It was bold enough 
and bitter enough, and well constructed and decently 
versified, but it failed in sarcasm because its malignity 
was permitted to render itself evident. The author is 
never very severe, because he is never sufficiently 
cool. We laugh not so much at the objects of his sa- 
tire as we do at himself for getting into so great a pas- 
sion. But, perhaps, under no circumstances is wit the 
forte of Mr. Osbom. He has few equals at downright 
invective. 

The Vision was succeeded by Artbar Catryl sod 
Otliet Poems, including an additional canto of the 

36s 



The Literati 



satbe, and several happy althougji not in all cases 
accurate or comprehensive imitations in English of 
the Greek and Roman metres. Arthur Carrjrl is a 
fragment, in the manner of Don JutuL I do not 
think it especially meritorious. It has, however, a 
truth-telling and discriminative preface, and its notes 
are well worthy perusaL Some opinions embraced in 
tliese latter on the to^c of versification I have ex- 
amined in one of the series of articles called Mar^ 

I am not aware that since Arthur CarrylMx. Osbom 
has written anything more tlian a Treatise on Oil 
Painting, issued not long ago by Messrs. Wiley & 
Putnam. This work is hig^y spoken of by those 
well qualified to judge, but is, I believe, principally a 
compilation or compendium. 

In personal character, Mr. O. is one of the most re- 
markable men I ever yet had the pleasure of meeting. 
He is undoubtedly one of " Nature's own noble- 
men," full of generosity, courage, honor; chivalrous 
in every respect, but, unhappily, carrying his ideas of 
chivalry, or rather of independence, to the point of 
Quizotismi if not of absolute insanity. He has no 
doubt been misapprehended, and therefore wronged, 
by the world; but he should not fail to remember 
that the source of the wrong lay in his own idio^n- 
crasy, one altogether unintelligible and unapprectaUe 
by the mass of mankind. 

366 



The Literati 



He is a member of one of the oldest and most influ- 
f ormeriy one of the wealthiest, families in New 
York. EBs acquirements and accomplishments are 
many and unusnaL As poet, painter, and musician 
he has succeeded nearly equally well, and abso- 
lutely succeeded as each. His scholarship is extensive. 
In the French and Italian languages he is quite at 
home, and in everything he is thorough and accurate, 
ffis critical abilities are to be highly respected, although 
he is apt to swear somewhat too roundly by Johnson 
and Pope. Imagination is not Mr. Osbom's ibife* 

He is about thirty-two or three, certainly not more 
than thirty-five years of age. In person he is well 
made, probably five feet ten or eleven, muscular, and 
active. Hair, eyes, and complexion, rather light ; fine 
teeth; the whole expression of the countenance manly, 
frank, and prepossessing in the highest degree. 

FTTZ-GREENE HALLECK 

The name of Halleck is at least as well established 
in the poetical world as that of any American. Our 
principal poets are, perhaps, most frequently named 
in this order: Bryant, Halleck, Dana, Sprague, Long- 
f eUow, Willis, and so on, Halleck coming second in 
the series, but holding, in fact, a rank in the public 
opinion quite equal to that of Bryant The accuracy 
of the arrangement as above made may, indeed, be 

367 



The Literati 



questioiied. For my own part, I should have it thus: 
LongfelloWy Bryant, Halleck, Willis, Sprague, Dana; 
and, recognizing rather the poetic capacity than the 
poems actually accomplished, there are three or f our 
comparatively unknown writers whom I would place 
in the series between Bryant and Halleck, while there 
are about a dozen whom I should assign a position 
between WiShB and Sprague. Two dozen at least 
might find room between Sprague and Dana; this 
latter, I fear, owing a very large portion of his rep- 
utation to his quoadam editorial connection with the 
North American Reriew. One or two poets, now in 
my mind's eye, I should have no hesitation in posting 
above even Mr. Longfellow, still not intending this as 
very extravagant praise. 

It is noticeable, however, that, in the arrangement 
which I attribute to the popular understanding, the 
order observed is neariy, if not exactly, that of the ages, 
the poetic ages, of the individual poets. Those 
rank first who were first known. The priority has 
established the strength of impression. Nor is this 
result to be accounted for by mere reference to the old 
saw, that first impressions are the strongest Grati- 
tude, surprise, and a species of hyper-patriotic triumph 
have been blended, and finally confounded with ad- 
miration or appreciation in regard to the pioneers of 
American, literature, among whom there is not one 
whose productions have not been grosdy overrated by 

368 



!•; 



The Literati 



Us countcymen. ffitherto we have been in no mood 
to view with calmness and discuss with discrimination 
the real claims of the few who were first in convincing 
the mother country that her sons were not all brainless^ 
as at one period she half affected and wholly wished to 
believe. Is there any one so blind as not to see that 
Mr. Cooper, for examjde, owes much| and Mr. Pauld- 
ing neariy all, of his reputation as a novelist to his 
eariy occupation of the field? Is there anyone so dull 
as not to know that fictions which neither of these 
gentlemen could have written are written daily by 
native authors, without attracting much more of com- 
mendation than can be included in a newspaper para- 
graph? And, again, is there any one so prejudiced as 
not to acknowledge that all this happens because there 
is no longer either reason or wit in the query, ** Who 
reads an American book ? ** 

I mean to say, of course, that Mr. Halleck, in the 
apparent public estimate, maintains a somewhat better 
position than that to which, on absolute grounds, he is 
entitled. There is something, too, in the bonhomie of 
certain of his compositions, something altogether dis- 
tinct from poetic merit, which has aided to establish 
him; and much, also, must be admitted on the score 
of his personal popularity, which is deservedly great 
With all these allowances, however, there will still be 
found a large amount of poetical fame to which he is 
f airiy entitled. 

VOL. inn.'«4. «5a 



The Literati 



He has written very litfle, although he began at an 
eaily age, nAen quite a boy, indeed. His " juvenile " 
worlo, however, have been kept very judiciously from 
the public eye. Attention was first called to him by 
his satires, signed ** Croaker " and ^* Croaker & Co.,*' 
publiahed in the New York BveniogPoBt, in 1819. Of 
these the pieces with the signature *' Croaker & Co." 
were the joint work of Halleck and his friend Drake. 
The political and personal features of th^ /euxd'esprit 
gave them a consequence and a notoriety to which 
they are entitled on no other account. They are not 
without a species of drollery, but are loosely and no 
doubt carelessly written. 

Neither was Fanny, which closely followed the 
Grooiei^ constructed with any great deliberation. "It 
was printed," say the ordinary memoirs, "witiun 
three weeks from its commencement; " but the truth 
is, that a couple of days would have been an ample 
allowance of time for any such composition. If we 
except a certain gentlemanly ease and insouciance, 
with some fancy of illustration, there is really very 
little about this poem to be admired. There has been 
no positive avowal of its authorship, althou^^ there 
can be no doubt of its having been written by Halleck. 
He, I presume, does not esteem it very highly. It is a 
mere extravaganza, in close imitation of Don Juan, a 
vehicle for squibs at contemporary persons and things. 

Our poet, indeed, seems to have been much im- 

370 



The Literati 



pressed by Don Juan, and attempts to engraft its far- 
cicalities even upon the grace and delicacy of Alnwkk 
Cattle, as, for example, in — 

Men in the coal and cattle line, 
Ftom Teviot's iMrd and hero land, 
Ftom royal Berwick's beach of sand. 
From Wooler, Morpeth, Hezham, aod 

Hewcastle-^ipon-Tyne. 

These things may lay daim to oddity, but no more. 
They are totally out of keeping with the tone of the 
sweet poem into which they are thus clumsily intro- 
duced, and serve no other purpose than to deprive it 
of all unity of effect. If a poet must be farcical, let 
him be just that ; he can be nothing better at the same 
moment To be droUy sentimental, or even senti- 
mentally droll, is intolerable to men and gods and 
columns. 

Alnwkk Castle is distinguished, in general, by that 
air of quiet grace, both in thought and expression, 
which is the prevailing feature of the Muse of Halleck. 
Its second stanza is a good specimen of this manner. 
The commencement of the fourth belongs to a very 
hi{^ order of poetry. 

WHd roees by the Abbey towers 
Are gay in their young bod and Uoo; 

Tbey were bota of a nee o/ hutend Oo 

That garlanded, in long-gone hours, 
A Ten^lar's knightly tomb. 

371 



The Literati 



This is gloriously imaginative, and the effect is sin- 
gulariy increased by the suddm transition from iam- 
buses to anapaests. The passage is, I tliink, the noblest 
to be found in Halleck, and I would be at a loss to 
discover its parallel in all American poetry. 

Marco Bozzarh has much lyrical, without any great 
amount of ideal, beauty. Force is its prevailing fea- 
ture, — ^force resulting rather from well-ordered metre, 
vigorous rhytlmi, and a judicious disposal of the cir- 
cumstances of the poem, than from any of the true 
lyric materiaL I should do my conscience great 
wrong were I to speak of Marco Bozzaris as it is the 
fashion to speak of it, at least in print. Even as a 
lyric or ode it is surpassed by many American and a 
multitude of foreign compositions of a similar char- 
acter. 

Bums has numerous passages exemplifying its au- 
thor's felicity of expression ; as, for instance. 

Such graves as his are pUgiim shrines, 
Shrines to no code or creed confined — 

Thg De^bkn rakM, Cbe FakgUaet, 
The Meeea$ of die mind. 

And, again: 

There have been loftier themes than his. 
And longer scrolls, and louder lyres, 

And lays Ut up with Poesy's 
Purer and holier fires. 

37a 



The Literati 



But to the sentiment involved in tiiis last quatrain I 
feel disposed to yield an assent more thorough than 
might be expected. Bums, indeed, was the puppet of 
circumstance. As a poet, no person on the face of the 
earth has been more eztravagantiy, more absurdly 
overrated. 

The Poet't Daughter is one of the most character- 
istic works of Halleck, abounding in his most distinct- 
ive traits — grace, expression, repose, insouciance. The 
vulgarity of 

I 'm Inisy in the cotton trade 
And sugar line, 

has, I rejoice to see, been omitted in the late editions. 
The eleventh stanza is certainly not English as it 
stands, and, besides, is quite unintelligible. What is 
the meaning of this ? — 

But her who aaki, though first among 
The goody the beautiful, the young, 
The Urthright of a speU more strong 
Than these have brought her. 

The liaea on the Death ofjoaeph Rodman Drake is, 
as a whole, one of the best poems of its author. Its 
simplicity and delicacy of sentiment will recommend it 
to all readers* It is, however, carelessly written, and 
the first quatrain, 

373 



The Lriterati 



GfM& be the tuxf ebove thee. 
Friend of my better days; 

Hone knew thee but to loTe thee, 
Hor named thee but to pfaieoy 



although beaatifuly bears too close a resemblance to 
the still more beaatifiil lines of Wordsworth: 

She dwelt among the untrodden ways 

Beside the springs of Dove, 
A maid whom thers were none to praise, 

And TSiy few to loTe. 

Ill versification Mr. Halleck is much as usual, al- 
thougji in this regard Mr. Bryant has paid him numer- 
ous compliments. Marco Bozzarh has certainly some 
vigor of rhythm, but its author, in short, writes care- 
lessly, loosely, and, as a matter of course, seldom 
effectively, so far as the outworks of literature are 
concerned. 

Of late days he has nearly given up the Muses, and 
we recognize his existence as a poet chiefly by occa- 
sional translations from the Spanish or German. 

Personally, he is a man to be adniiired, respected, 
but more especially beloved. His address has all the 
captivating bonbowie which is the leading feature of 
his poetry, and, indeed, of his whole moral nature, 
'^th his friends he is all ardor, enthusiasm, and 
cordiality, but to the world at large he is reserved, 
shunning society, into which he is seduced only with 

374 



The Literati 



difficultyi and upon rare occasions. The lore of 
solitude seems to have become with him a passion. 

He is a good modem linguist, and an excellent belles- 
lettres scholar; in general, has read a great deal, al- 
though very discursively. He is what the woild calls 
ultra in most of his opinions, more particularly about 
literature and politics, and is fond of broaching and 
supporting paradoxes. He converses fluently with 
animation and zeal; is choice and accurate in his lan- 
guage, exceedingly quick at repartee, and apt at anec* 
dote. His manners are courteous, with dignity and a 
little tincture of Gallicism. His age is about fifty. In 
height he is probably five feet seven. He has been 
stout« but may now be called well-proportioned. His 
forehead is a noble one, broad, massive, and intel- 
lectual, a little bald about the temples; eyes dark and 
brilliant, but not large; nose Grecian; chin promi- 
nent; mouth finely chiselled and full of expression, 
although the lips are thin; his smile is peculiariy 
sweet 

In Graluun's Magazine for September, 1843, there 
appeared an engraving of Mr. Halleck from a painting 
by Inman. The likeness conveys a good general idea 
of the man, but is far too stout and youthful-looking 
for his appearance at present 

His usual puTBuits have been commercial, but he is 
now the principal superintendent of the business of 
Mr. John Jacob Astor. He is unmarried. 

375 



The Literati 



Ann & STEPHEHS 

Mn. Stephens has made no collection of her works, 
but has written much for the magazines^ and welL 
Her compositions have been brief tales with occa- 
sional poems. She made her first ''sensation" in 
obtaining a premitmi of four hundred doUars, offered 
for " the best prose story " by some one of our jour- 
nals, her MaryDtrweni proving the successful article. 
The amount of the prize, however, — a much larger one 
tlian it has been the custom to offer, — had more to do 
with the edai of the success than had the podtive 
merit of the tale, althou^^ this is very considerable. 
She has subsequently written several better things; 
Malina Gray, for example, Aflbe Copleys and Tbe Two 
Dtskea, These are on serious subjects. In comic ones 
she has comparatively failed. She is fond of the bold, 
striking, trenchant, in a word, of the melodramatic; 
has a quick appreciation of the picturesque, and is not 
unskilful in delineations of character. She seizes 
adroitly on salient incidents and presents them with 
vividness to the eye, but in their combinations or 
adaptations she is by no means so thoroughly at home ; 
that is to say, her plots are not so good as are their in- 
dividual items. Her style is what the critics usually 
term ''powerful,'' but lacks real power through its 
verboseness and floridity. It is, in fact, generally tur- 
gid, even bombastic, involved, needlessly parenthetical, 

376 



The Literati 



and tfuperabimdant in epithets, althonc^ these latter 
are frequently weU chosen. Her sentences are also, 
for the most part, too long; we forget their commence- 
ments ere we get at their terminations. Her faults, 
nevertheless, both in matter and manner, belong to the 
effervescence of high talent, if not exactly of genius. 

Of Mrs. Stephens's poetry I have seen so very little 
that I fed myself scarcely in condition to speak of it. 

She began her literary life, I believe, by editing The 
Portland Magaxtncf and has since been announced as 
editress of The Ladies' Compaohot a monthly journal 
published some years ago in New York, and also, at a 
later period, of Graham's Magazine, and subse- 
quently, again, of Peterson's National Magazines 
These announcements were announcements, and no 
more; the lady had nothing to do with the editorial 
control of any of the three last-named works. 

The portrait of Mrs. Stephens, which appeared in 
Graham's Magazine for November, 1844, cannot fairly 
be considered a likeness at alL She is tall, and sUghtly 
inclined to embonpoint—an Bullish figure. Her fore- 
head is somewhat low, but broad; the features gener- 
ally massive, but full of life and intellectuality. The 
eyes are Uue and brilliant; the hair blonde and very 
luxuriant. 

EVERT A. DnTCKDfCK 

Mr. Duyddnck is one of the most influential of the 

377 



The Literati 



Hew Tork UninieurB, and has done a great deal for 
the interest of American letten. Hot the least im- 
portant serviee rendered by him was the projection 
and editorship of Wiley & Putnam's ''lifaraiy of 
Choice Reading/' a series which bronj^t to public 
notice many valuable foreign works which had been 
suffering under ne^ect in this country, and at the 
same time afforded unwonted encouragement to na- 
tive authors by publishing their books, in good style 
and in good company, without trouble or risk to the 
authors themselves, and in the very teeth of the dis- 
advantages arising from the want of an international 
copyright law. At one period it seemed that this 
happy scheme was to be ovendielmed by the com* 
petition of rival publishers, — ^taken, in fact, quite out of 
the hands of those ^o, by '* right of discovery," were 
entitled at least to its first-fruits. A great variety of 
*' Libraries," in imitation, were set on foot, but what- 
ever may have been the temporary success of any of 
these latter, the original one had already too weU es- 
tablished itself in the public favor to be overthrown, 
and thus has not been prevented from proving of great 
benefit to our literature at large. 

Mr. Duyddnck has dyly acquired much fame and 
numerous admirers under the nom deplume of '* Felix 
Mercy." The various essays thus signed have at- 
tracted attention everywhere from the judicious. The 
st^ is remarkable for its very unusual blending of 

378 



The Literati 



purity and ease with a seemingty inconaiateiit origin- 
alitjy force, and independence. 

*' Felix Merry/' in connection with Mr. Cornelius 
Mathews, was one of the editors and originators of 
AretunUf deddedly the very best magazine in many 
respects ever published in the United States. A large 
number of its most interesting papers were the work 
of Mr. D. The magazine was, upon the ^ole, a little 
too good to enjoy extensive popularity; although I am 
here using an equivocal phrase, for a better journal 
might have been far more acceptable to the public. I 
must be undeistood, then, as employing the epithet 
'* good ** in the sense of the literary quietists. The 
general taste of Areturus was, I think, excessively 
tasteful; but this character applies rather more to its 
external or mechanical appearance than to its essen- 
tial qualities. Unhappily, magazines and other simi- 
lar publications are, in the beginning, judged chiefly 
byextemals. People saw Aivfurra looking very much 
like other works which had failed throuj^ notorious 
dulness, althouj^ admitted as aMtti etegantlarum in 
all points of what is termed taste or decorum; and 
they, the people, had no patience to examine any fur- 
ther. Cssar's wife was required not only to be vir- 
tuous but to seem so, and in letters it is demanded not 
only that we be not stupid, but that we do not amy 
ourselves in the habiliments of stupidity. 

It cannot be said of Areturus exactly that it wanted 

379 



The Literati 



force. It was deficient in power of impresdon, and 
this deficiency is to be attributed mainly to the 
exceeding brevity of its articles, a brevity that degen- 
erated into mere paragraphism, precluding disserta- 
tion or argument, and thus all permanent effect The 
magazine, in fact, had some of the worst or most in- 
convenient features without any of the compensating 
advantages of a weekly literary newspaper. The 
mannerism to which I refer seemed to have its source 
in undue admiration and consequent imitation of The 
Spec(9to^0 

In addition to his more obvious literary engage- 
ments, Mr. Duyddnck writes a great deal, editorially 
and otherwise, for The Democratic Review, The Mom^ 
ing NewWf and other periodicals. 

In character he is remarkable, distinguished for the 
bonhomie of his manner, his simplicity and single- 
mindedness, his active beneficence, his hatred of 
wrong done even to any enemy, and especially for an 
almost Quixotic fidelity to his friends. He seems in 
perpetual good humor with all things, and I have no 
doubt that in his secret heart he is an optimist. 

In person he is equally simple as in character; the 
one is a pendant of the other. He is about five feet 
eis^t inches higli, somewhat slender. The f orehead, 
phrenologically, is a good one; eyes and hair light; 
the whole expression of the face that of serenity and 
benevolence, contributing to give an idea of youthful* 

3»o 



The Literati 



nass. He is probably thirty, but does not seem to be 

twenty-five. His dress, also, is in full keeping with 
his character, scrupulously neat, but plain, and con- 
veying an instantaneous conviction of the gentleman. 
He is a descendant of one of the oldest and best Dutch 
families in the state. Married. 

MARY GOVE 

Mrs. Mary Gove, under the pseudonym of ** Mary 
Orme,'* has written many excellent papers for the 
magazines. Her subjects are usually tinctured with 
the mysticism of the transcendentalists, but are truly 
imaginative. Her style is quite remarkable for its 
Ituninousness and precision, two qualities very rare 
with her sex. An article entitled ** The Gift of Pro- 
phecy,*' published originally in The Broadway Joamal 
is a fine specimen of her manner. 

Mrs. Gove, however, has acquired less notoriety by 
her literary compositions than by her lectures on phy- 
siology to classes of females. These lectures are said 
to have been instructive and useful; they certainly 
elicited much attention. Mrs. G. has also given public 
discourses on mesmerism, I believe, and other similar 
themes — matters which put to the severest test the 
credulity, or, more property, the faith of mankind. 
She is, I think, a mesmerist, a Swedenborgian, a phre- 
nologist, a homosopathist, and a disciple of Piiessnitz; 
what more I am not prepared to say. 

381 



The Literati 



She is rather below the medittm hei^t, somewhat 
thin, with dark hair, and keen, intelligent Hack eyes. 
She converses well and with enthusiasm. Jn many 
respect s a very interesting woman. 

JAMES ALDRICH 

Mr. Aldrich has written much for the magazines, 
etc, and at one time assisted Mr. Park Benjamin in 
the conduct of The New WorkL He also originated, 
I believe, and edited a not very long-lived or successful 
weeUy paper, called The Literary Gazette, an imitation 
in its external appearance of the London journal of the 
same name. I am not aware that he has made any 
collection of his writings. His poems abound in the 
true poetic spirit, but they are frequently chargeable 
with plagiarism, or something much like it True, I 
have seen but three of Mr. Aldrich's compositions in 
verse, — ^the three (or perhaps there are four of them) 
included by Dr. Griswold in his Poets at^ Poetry of 
America* Of these three (or four), however, there 
are two which I cannot help regarding as palpable 
plagiarisms. Of one of them, in especial, A Deaths 
Bed, it is impossible to say a plausible word in 
defence. Both in matter and manner it is nearly 
identical with a little piece entitled The Deatb^Bed, 
by Thomas Hood. 

The charge of plagiarism, nevertheless, is a purely 

38a 



The Literati 



literary one; and a plagiarism, even distinctly prored, 
by no means necessarily involves any moral delin- 
quency. This proposition applies very especially to 
what appear to be poetical thefts. The poetic senti- 
ment presupposes a keen appreciation of the beautiful 
with a longing for its assimilation into the poetic 
identity. What the poet intensely admires becomes 
thus, in very fact, althouj^ only partially, a portion of 
his own souL Within this soul it has a secondary 
origination; and the poet, thus possessed by another's 
thouj^t, cannot be said to take of it possession. But 
in either view he thoroughly feds it as his own; and 
the tendency to this feeling is counteracted only by the 
sensible presence of the true, palpable origin of the 
thouj^t in the volume whence he has derived it, an 
origin which, in the long lapse of years, it is impos- 
sible not to forget, should the thouj^t itself, as it often 
is, be forgotten. But the frailest association will re- 
generate it; it springs up with all the vigor of a new 
birth; its absolute originality is not with the poet a 
matter even of suspicion; and when he has written it 
and printed it, and on its account is charged with 
plagiarism, there will be no one more entirely as- 
tounded than himself. Row, from what I have said, 
it appears that the liability to accidents of this char- 
acter is in the direct ratio of the poetic sentiment, of 
the susceptibility to the poetic impression; and, in 
fact, all literary histoiy demonstrates that, for the 

3«3 



The Literati 



most frequent and palpable plagiarisms we must 
search the works of the most eminent poets. 

Since penning the aboye I have found five quatrains 
hj Mr. Aldrich, with the heading Mottjr Grays These 
verses are in the fullest exemplification of what I have 
just said of their author, evincing at once, in the most 
remarkable manner, both his merit as an imaginative 
poet and his unconquerable proneness to imitation. I 
quote the two concluding quatrains : 

Pretty, fairy MoUy Grayl 
What may thy fit emhlem be ? 

Stream or star or Urd or fiower — 
They are all too poor for thee. 

Ho type to match thy beauty 

My wandering fancy brings — 
Not hh-er dutn H» ebrfUBB 

Tby $oui wUb h» goUen wiag»f 

Here the ** Pretty, faixy Molly Grayl " will put every 
reader in mind of Tennyson's ^* Airy, faixy lillianl " 
by which Mr. Aldrich's whole poem has been clearly 
suggested; but the thoug)it in the Saale is, as far as I 
know anything about it, original, and is not more 
happy than happily expressed. 

Mr. Aldrich is about thirty-six years of age. In re- 
gard to his person tliere is nothing to be especially 
noted. 

384 



The Literati 



HBlfRY GARY 

Dr. Griswold introduces Mr. Gary to the appendix of 
The Poets and Poetry as Mr. Henry Garey, and gives 
him credit for an anacreontic song of much merit en- 
titled, or commencing, Old Wine to Drink This was 
not written by Mr. Gary. He has composed little verse, 
if any, but, under the nain de plume of '* John Waters,'* 
has acquired some note by a series of prose essays in 
the New York Anaerican and The Knidterbocker* 
These essays have merit, unquestionably, but some 
person, in an article furnished the Broadway Journal 
before my assumption of its editorship, has gone to the 
extreme of toadyism in their praise. This critic (pos- 
siUyMr. Briggs) thinks that John Waters *' is ia some 
sort a Sam Rogers " ; '* resembles Lamb ia fastidious- 
ness of taste *' ; '* has a finer artistic taste than the au- 
thor of the Sketeb^Book^f that his ^ sentences are 
the most perfect in the language — too perfect to be 
peculiar "; that ** it would be a vain task to hunt 
throuj^ them all for a superfluous conjunction," and 
that *' we need them [the works of John Waters] as 
models of style in these days of rhodomontades and 
Macaulayisms I ** 

The truth seems to be that Mr. Gary is a vivacious, 
fanciful, entertaining essayist, a fifth or sixth, rate 
one, with a style that, as times go, in view of such 
stylists as Mr. Briggs, for example, may be termed 

▼OUTIS1.-SS. 285 



The Literati 



respectable, and no more. What the critic of the 
wishes us to understand by a style that is '* too per- 
fecty*' '* the most perf ect,'* etc, it is scarcely worth 
while to inquire, since it is generally supposed that 
^ perfect " admits of no degrees of comparison; but 
if Mr. Briggs (or lAoever it is) finds it *' a vain task to 
hunt*' through all Mr. John Waters's works '* for a 
siq>erfluous conjunction,*' there are few schoolboys 
lAo would not prove more successful hunters than 
Mr. Briggs* 

** It was wen filled," says the essayist, on the very 
page containing these encomiums, '^antf yet the num- 
ber of performers," etc. ^ We paid our visit to the 
incomparable ruins of the castle, antf then proceeded 
to retrace our steps, and eTamine our lAeds at every 
post-house reached," etc. *' After consultation with a 
mechanic at Heidelberg, antf finding that," etc. The 
last sentence should read, ** Finding, after consulta- 
tion," etc, the ** and " would thus be avoided. Those 
in the two sentences first quoted are obviously pleo- 
nastic. Mr. Gary, in fact, abounds very espedally 
in superfluities (as here, for example, ^ He seated 
himself at a piano that was near the front of the 
stage"), and, to speak the truth, is continually 
guilty of all kinds of grammatical improprieties. 
I repeat that in this respect he is decent, and no 
more. 

Mr. Gary is what Dr. Giiswdd calls a ^ gvntieman 

386 



The Literati 



of elegant leienn." He is wealthy and mttch add]ct«d 
to letters and ritiii. For a long time he was Prerident 
of the Phoenix Bank of New York, and the principal 
part of hlB life has been devoted to buaness. There li 
nothing remarkable about his personal appearance. 

(Cmdntwd In VoltuM IZ.) 



387 





811 



Pi 
1.3 



T,8